The effects of the school finance lawsuit are being seen this month in the proposed Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools 2014-2015 budget decrease of 11 mills.
If all other taxing districts stay the same as last year, a Kansas City, Kan., taxpayer would see a tax decrease of $125 on a $100,000 home, according to Kelli Mather, chief financial officer for the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools.
However, the other taxing districts in Wyandotte County, including the Unified Government, Kansas City Kansas Community College and the libraries, and other districts, have not yet voted on their final tax rates. The Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools board also will vote later on its final budget next month.
Mather explained that the state had been prorating its payments to the school districts, not giving all of the expected funds to the districts.
“Now they’re saying we’re required to get all of the state aid with no proration, but a significant amount has to go back to the taxpayers, which is the 11 mills,” Mather said.
The state aid was projected at 71 cents on the dollar, she said, and the district was not receiving that. Instead the district was receiving around 58 cents on the dollar.
The district now has no choice but to give some of it back to the taxpayers, Mather said, because the general fund has a cap on it of 20 mills. The district’s other funds also are maxed out, she said, meaning that the district cannot spend some of this extra money and has to return it to the taxpayers.
That’s good news for local taxpayers.
“It’s a win-win for the community,” Mather said.
Other school districts’ mill levies will vary, but because all districts had their local option budget funds prorated, there may be funds from varying levels going back to individual community taxpayers, she said. The Kansas City, Kan., district budget is larger than other school districts in the county, so it is a significant amount, she added.
The Kansas City, Kan., school district is at its cap at 30 percent for the local option budget, and the only way it can go above that is to hold an election at the polls, she said. The 11 mills, or part of it, can’t be put into the LOB.
Mather said the KCK district has never really considered an election to increase the LOB, as was held recently in Piper, and is not currently considering an LOB increase. The district in the past has taken the position that taxes already were high in the community.
The school district’s budget recommendation came out in its agenda during the day Monday, and on Monday night, the Unified Government Commission voted to increase its maximum mill levy by 4 mills over the administrator’s recommendation to give it more flexibility as it continues to discuss what will be funded next year. Some of the commissioners indicated that they still want to keep the tax rate the same as last year, at the administrator’s total 82-mill recommendation, and the reason stated for the increase in the maximum amount was so that the UG could raise or lower the mill levy within either the city or county funds.
Mather said the school district has to keep its eye on state finances. The district will have to wait to see whether the state will prorate the funds or not in the future. She said she is aware of reports a few weeks ago that the state is running a $390 million deficit in its revenues.
“We have to be mindful of all those factors,” she said.
The Kansas City, Kan., school district budget is on the agenda for the 5:30 p.m. July 15 meeting at the Central Office, 2010 N. 59th St., Kansas City, Kan. The board is expected to approve the notice of the budget hearing for Aug. 12, then at a board meeting next month, it is expected to vote on the proposed budget.
Courtney Romero of Kansas City, Kan., is part of crew presenting “The Arkansaw Bear,” the final show of the Emporia State University Summer Theatre’s 60th anniversary season.
Romero is assistant stage manager.
Written by Aurand Harris, the beloved children’s show is celebrated worldwide as a sensitive and family-friendly depiction of life and death.
Sparkling with entertainment while also dramatizing — with poignancy — a universal truth, “The Arkansaw Bear” runs July 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. in King Hall. The final performance will be a 2 p.m. matinee on July 26. All performances are in the Karl C. Bruder Theatre in King Hall.