Jamestown school property tax levy steady for upcoming year
The Jamestown Public School Board reviewed a draft balanced budget at its June meeting and will certify its preliminary budget at its July 6 meeting, according to Rob Lech, superintendent. The new budget does not include an increase to the district's mill rate.
"The projected budget does not look to increase the local contribution," Lech said. "The property tax should be steady in terms of the mill rate."
The budget does include a possible 3% to 5% increase in property tax revenue based on new property added to the tax rolls and increases in valuation to existing property, Lech said.
The other major source of revenue for school districts is foundation aid from the state of North Dakota.
"State funding is driven by enrollment which is slightly up," Lech said.
The amount of state revenue for the upcoming school year was set by the 2019 North Dakota Legislature. The funding formula uses the average daily membership for the previous year or the fall school enrollment for the current year, whichever is higher.
In either case, Jamestown Public Schools will receive slightly more revenue for the upcoming school year, Lech said.
"Not significantly higher than last year but higher," he said.
The funding formula for the school year that starts in the fall of 2021 will be set by the 2021 Legislature.
"We have concerns looking ahead to the next Legislative session," Lech said. "That Legislature would affect the two years after the upcoming fiscal year."
The revenue budget for the upcoming school year is about $31.1 million, Lech said. Expenses for the year are currently budgeted at $31 million.
Expenses did increase related to personnel costs with no plans to add any new staff at the school district, Lech said.
Lech noted the Jamestown School District did receive about $500,000 from the CARES act to cover additional costs it has incurred dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
"We used that for educational technology, food service for the revenue shortfall it had during the shutdown and additional cleaning supplies and equipment," Lech said.
School districts are reimbursed for transportation costs based on the number of students that traveled on buses and the number of miles those buses traveled during the school year prior to the current school year, Lech said.
During the school year that started in the fall of 2019, the district received a full reimbursement based on the 2018 statistics even though buses were idle from March to the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This coming school year, assuming there is a full year of classroom activity, the school transportation reimbursement will be down about $100,000 based on the statistics for the previous school year.
"It all comes out as a wash between the two years anyway," Lech said.
Once the preliminary budget is approved, it can be lowered but not increased prior to certification of the final budget in October.