As the Superintendent of USD 113, I am very aware of the burden that taxes place on our constituents. In preparing for the 2018-19 school district’s budget, I encouraged the USD 113 Board of Education to increase the Supplemental General Fund (SGF) Budget from 30 percent to 33 percent of the formula – maximizing this fund and the taxes levied.
By strategically increasing the SGF Budget from 30 percent to 33 percent and reducing the mill levy for Capital Outlay, the district was able to increase funds available for educating the district’s children by an estimated $139,257 with the same tax levy.
How can a school district increase revenue with the same impact for local taxpayers? The difference is in the state aid that is offered to the district for different funds. This is called the equalization formula.
For the 2018-19 school year, USD 113’s state aid for the SGF was 22.73 percent. The state aid for capital outlay was zero percent. These funds use different formulas to determine state aid. By strategically decreasing capital outlay mills and increasing SGF mills, our board of education was able to provide additional funds to educate students, but keep the district’s mill rate the same. Since that time, USD 113 has continued to employ this method of maximizing the state’s contribution in aid to reduce the local demand on taxpayers.
Our board continues to be good stewards of the public’s money. The State of Kansas allows districts to collect up to eight mills from local taxpayers for capital outlay. For the 2022-23 year, the district levied 6.5 mills for capital outlay. Even considering the lease purchase debt for recent facility improvements, projections do not reflect more than 6.5 mills being levied for capital outlay for future years.
Because of the governor’s line item veto of portions of legislative bill SB 113, it is possible that our district will receive “lookback” or “residual funding” from the finance formula. If we do, there are a number of considerations for the board to explore. Two of the three mentioned below result in a reduction on the levy that impacts USD 113 taxpayers.
*The one option that does not reduce local taxes, but is a valid consideration, involves land transfer negotiations with districts that will be educating former Wetmore students. The potential exists for USD 113 to provide some compensation to other districts for transporting former Wetmore school students. USD 113 is awaiting written requests from our neighbors to consider this situation.
*USD 113 board of education members had the foresight to write into the facility improvement – lease purchase agreement, the ability to make early payments. A consideration for the board is to use available funds for early payments to reduce future taxes.
*USD 113 has the opportunity to reduce the tax levy for capital outlay. While it is inadvisable to have a mill rate decrease when there has been a historical uniform levy, it is possible that a portion of this revenue could be used to provide temporary relief to the taxpayers of USD 113.
USD 113 has a history of working to provide the resources necessary to educate district students, while being considerate of the burden placed on local taxpayers. The opportunity to use “lookback” or “residual” funding to positively impact our district’s taxpayers is welcome as our district continues to educate kids and shape the future.