School Board holds public hearing on 2018 budget

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The Switzerland County School Board on Monday night held its review and public hearings for its 2018 budget.

Corporation treasurer Wilma Rosenberger told the school board that her preparation of the budget was based on using an assessed valuation of $430,000,00 – the advertised tax rate that will be sent to the state for approval through the Department of Local Government Finance for 2018 will be 0.9466, which, if approved, will allow for a budget of $15,953,455.

Rosenberger noted that the official tax rate will not be set until the stage agency finishes its work, and that the school corporation bases the budget on 90-percent of the assessed valuation as a hedge against the state coming back with a smaller number.

The actual assessed valuation for 2017 was $451,709,582. In preparing the 2017 budget, the school corporation used an advertised rate of 0.8182; while the actual rate approved by the state was 0.6725. This allowed for a 2017 budget of $15,785,708.

What is assessed valuation?

According to the website Investopedia, “An assessed value is the dollar value assigned to a property to measure applicable taxes. Assessed valuation determines the value of a residence for tax purposes and takes comparable home sales and inspections into consideration.”

At Monday’s meeting, the school corporation held its mandated public hearing on each area of the budget.

– The General Fund portion of the budget for 2018 is estimated to be $10,800,000. Rosenberger noted that general fund money coming to the school is no longer a part of the budget, but comes from the state based on enrollment.

– The Debt Service portion o the budget for 2018 is an advertised rate of 0.1241. This would raise $661,058, which is money that the corporation would use to pay its loans that it has from the construction costs: two loans for Jefferson-Craig Elementary and one loan for the construction of Switzerland County Middle School.

It was noted that the Switzerland County School Endowment Corporation, using money from the Switzerland County Council through Riverboat revenues, has paid the debt service portion of the school’s tax levy for the past several years. It is believed that the Endowment will continue this practice, and once the state receives assurance from the Endowment that the debt will be paid by another means, the debt service portion of the levy will go to zero, which saves every tax payer in the county money.

– The Capital Projects portion of the budget are funds that the corporation uses to make real, physical improvements and upgrades to facilities. The corporation works with the state off of a three year plan, but Rosenberger noted in Monday’s meeting that the school corporation has a five year plan that it works from.

For 2018, the advertised rate for Capital Projects is 0.4220, which would raise a total of $2,120,478. The actual rate approved by the state in 2017 was 0.3513, which allowed for a 2017 budget of $2,019,428.

– Transportation Operations is also a portion of the budget, and the advertised rate for 2018 is 0.3357. That would raise $1,829,919 for the coming year. In 2017, the actual rate that the state approved was 0.2740, which allowed for a 2017 budget of $1,629,919.

– The final line item portion of the budget is Bus Replacement. The state requires that every school corporation have a plan in place to take old buses out of service and replace them on a rotating basis.

For the coming year, the school board approved an advertised rate of 0.0648, which would result in raising a total of $542,000 for new buses.

In the 2017 budget, the actual rate ended up being 0.0472, which allowed for a 2017 budget of $672,500.