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USD 410 approves 1.9% tax hike

News editor

USD 410 Board of Education approved the district’s 2012-13 budget Monday with a tax increase of 1.9 percent from 2011-12. The board made the decision after debating whether to increase taxes now to avoid a bigger jump in the future or to try holding the line because of the tough economy.

Board President Eddie Weber suggested trying to hold the tax level the same for a year in case Gov. Sam Brownback’s projections of increasing state revenue while reducing state income tax come true.

“I’m leaning toward staying status quo for one year and hoping the governor is right,” he said.

Board member Gary Andrews said he didn’t want to see the district in bad shape this time next year and needing a much larger increase in property taxes. Board member Chad Nowak said the district can’t count on receiving more money from the state or increasing enrollment.

Board member Deb Geis urged considering the predicament farmers are in because of the ongoing drought.

“There’s no fall harvest out there,” Geis said.

“Would you be comfortable keeping the mill levy where it’s at?” Weber asked Superintendent Steve Noble.

“As a property owner, I would be very comfortable, but not as an educator,” Noble said.

Board member Rod Koons said he thought the district could hold on another year without a big increase and that he was confident in the district’s employees to use the budget wisely. He suggested approving a smaller increase than the 3.5 percent increase Noble recommended.

If Noble’s budget projections hold true, even with a 1.9 percent increase in property taxes, the district’s cash balances will be slowly depleted.

The increase is equivalent to $11.51 per year on a residence with an appraised value of $85,000, the median value for Marion County.

Nobody from the public spoke at the budget hearing.

In other business:

  • Maintenance Director Keith Goossen gave a presentation about a system he uses to control heating, air-conditioning, and lighting at the schools to reduce energy use. Ben Trount of EPM, who designed the system, spoke to the board about how he would recommend replacing aging HVAC units.
  • Pay for substitute aides will increase to $8 per hour from $7.50 or $7.75 per hour depending on the type of aide.
  • Grace Community Church received a six-month extension on its lease to have Sunday worship services at Hillsboro Elementary School. The church has average attendance of 140 people each Sunday.
  • The board ratified the Technology Excellence in Education Network board’s decision to increase TEEN Director Brandi Hendrix’s salary 3 percent to $52,273 per year. TEEN pays all salary and benefits, but USD 410 holds her contract. Board member and TEEN representative Mark Rooker said the decision was based on what other districts have done and a paltry history of raises for Hendrix.
  • The board met in closed session for 30 minutes to discuss personnel. After the board returned to open session, it approved the resignation of school nurse Diedre Serene, the retirement of bus driver Eldon Funk, and hiring Robert Haude as an assistant high school football coach and Amanda Marler as a bus driver.
  • The district received $3,435 from auctioning off surplus desks and equipment.
  • Noble reviewed changes in how school performance will be measured since Kansas received a waiver of the adequate yearly progress provisions of the No Child Left Behind federal law.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 10.

Last modified Aug. 16, 2012

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