School board approves preliminary levy of 7% increase

 
The Tri-City United School District may collect 7.18 percent more from the property taxpayers in its district, after the board of education approved a preliminary tax levy on Monday, Sept. 23.
 
According to TCU’s finance manager, Robin Pikal, the district, still in its infancy, will collect $5.6 million in taxes by the end of this year. That number will  jump to $6 million, for a difference of $404,000 or 7.15 percent next year.
 
The levy calculation is made up of a combination of state formulas and local (district) decisions. On Monday, Pikal showed the board information that compared  collected 2013 and will collect next year. Among the local decisions was the $302,000 decrease in the district’s operating levy for next year. Pikal noted that this decrease from taxpayers comes as a result of shift (and increase) in state aid to schools.
 
“We’re not losing that amount,” she said. “Basically the state is picking up that portion.”
 
In contrast, the district chose to increase its health and safety budget by $216,000. Pikal said that this fund uses the money for things that are recommended by the company Institute for Environmental Assessment (IEA) that works with the district on indoor environmental, hazardous, and health and safety issues.
 
School funding is very complicated thanks to local and state-made decisions that are not yet finalized. Add to this the fact that Tri-City United is still in its infancy. These were pointed out in Pikal’s recommendations to the board.
 
“The Department of Education is still working through updates in their system due to legislative calculating changes and particularly for TCU, the look back period for levy adjustments is pre-consolidation, through a preliminary levy projection is especially challenging at this time,” she wrote. 
 
Pikal said it is too early to compute tax impacts due to the the state’s continuing changes. 
 
The deadline for districts to set final maximum levies is September 30. Pikal noted that is is common for districts to request the maximum  now because it allows districts the time to review and adjust their budgets before final approval. 
 
The school board will review and vote on the final levy, and review next year’s budget at the December 9 regular board meeting.