As usually is the case, it did not take the St. Clair R-XIII School District Board of Education very long to set its tax levy for the 2014-15 academic year.
In fact, it happened so fast that everyone in attendance had to wait several minutes after Thursday’s public hearing ended before school board President Dave Berkel officially could open the regular meeting that followed at 7 p.m.
With no public comment, the board adopted a $3.37 overall tax levy during the public hearing that started at 6:45 p.m. The rate has been the same for 14 years.
Superintendent Mike Murphy recommended the $3.37 tax rate to the board. The levy is for every $100 of assessed valuation.
“I recommend the board adopt the $3.37 rate,” Murphy said. “It should provide the level of compliance and cash flow to meet the level of payments.”
By law, school districts must conduct a public hearing on their proposed tax rates prior to adopting them.
The overall levy includes 62 cents per every $100 of assessed valuation for debt service as well as $2.05 in the incidental (operations) fund and 70 cents in the teachers fund.
According to information provided by the R-XIII school district, estimated real estate values for the current year show $85,148,139 for residential, $23,617,106 for commercial and $5,281,106 for agricultural for a district total of $114,046,835.
The June numbers are slightly higher than the August 2013 numbers of $84,824,784 for residential, $23,408,232 for commercial and $5,310,946 for agriculture. Those total $113,543,962.
June is the latest month the local property value numbers are available for this year.
Personal property assessment for 2014 is estimated at $24,283.943, or $112,726 more than 2013’s $24,171,217.
The estimated 2014 grand total is $138,330,778 compared to $137,715,179 in 2013.
Using the estimated 2014 numbers, the $3.37 overall tax levy is expected to bring about $4,372,718.89 into district coffers during the fiscal year that began on July 1. That amount is broken into $2,659,962,53 in the incidental fund, $908,279.89 into the teachers fund and $804,476,47 into the debt service fund.
Final figures should be released in August.
The tax rates on local property are established to produce the revenues for the budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1.
“At the end of the day, you can see that the levy will create just over $4 million using the June numbers,” Murphy said. “When we get the final numbers in August, that could vary a bit, but based on the last couple of years it should remain flat.”
The revenue is determined by dividing the assessed valuation by 100, multiplying it by the proposed rate and then multiplying by the anticipated collection rate of .9380, the district stated.
In June, school board members approved a 2014-15 budget totaling $20.24 million. For the fourth straight year, the district’s budget is less than the year before.
Before that budget was adopted, the board of education and the administrative team put it together under the assumption that the tax rate would remain the same. It includes raises to staff, insurance options for all full-time employees and continues a plan that emphasizes one-to-one digital learning for students.
But, because of funding shortfalls, the district had to take a critical look at decreasing expenses while maintaining a positive 21st century learning environment for students and providing competitive salaries for staff members.
Earlier this year, Murphy instituted the first phase of a two-phase program that included staff reductions and other cuts and reductions that amounted to about $850,000 in savings that became effective on July 1.
Murphy said if inflation estimates continue to rise, the district will need to evaluate further Phase II reductions during 2015-16 or consider methods to increase revenue, including a hike to the operating tax levy.
“You did quite a bit of work on the budget to allow us to work under this $3.37 debt service levy,” Murphy told board members on Thursday. “So my recommendation is to keep the rate the same.”