ASHLAND – The Ashland-Greenwood Board of Education has decreased the overall levy for tax payers for the fifth year in a row.
At their meeting Monday night, the school board adopted the budget and the tax request for 2019-2020. The overall levy is $0.99555.
A property valuation increase of 7 percent allowed the district to decrease the general fund levy to $0.8338, down from $0.8655 last year. The rise in property valuation also allows the district to lower the cash reserve in the general fund from $2,831,679 in 2017-2018 to $2,056,131. This year, the cash reserve will be $85,000.
Libal said the increased valuations allowed the district to have more flexibility related to the overall tax levy, and individual funds that are levied into from year to year.
“For example, the proposed budget affords us the opportunity to maintain and overall levy of $.995 while lowering our general operating fund and bond fund, and raising our special building fund levy,” he said.
In anticipation of building needs, the school board raised the special building fund levy from $0.085 to $0.12190.
“Due to continued growth, we have identified urgent property and facility needs. We are over capacity at every building level. Thus, we have prioritized building and growing this fund which will allow us to purchase property, build facilities, and meet such growth head-on. In addition, a potential bond issue is on our horizon. Building the special building fund allows us to reduce the overall pending bond issue amount, which is a benefit to our tax payers,” Libal said.
Due to refinancing of bonds in 2016 and increased valuations, the district lowered the bond fund levy from $0.045 to $0.03970.
A loss of approximately $1.2 million in state funding over the past three years has affected how the district levies into the general operating fund, Libal said.
“It is important that this reduction is accounted for and replaced as it relates to the amount brought into our general fund,” he said. “Again, the increased valuations allow us to account/replace this amount, while still lowering our overall general operating fund levy.”
The district’s property tax request is $7,619,408, up about $425,000 from the previous year.
During a public hearing for the budget on Sept. 3, local resident Randy Beranek addressed the board about the district’s depreciation fund, building fund and cash reserve.
Beranek said he feels there could be “meaningful reduction” in the levy without affecting the school finances, and questioned the increase in the special building fund in anticipation of future growth. He said the bond fund jump equates to a bond fund without the voters’ approval.
“I think this community should have a say when you’re putting that many dollars into that building fund,” he said.