Archive for Monday, July 22, 2013

School board votes to publish $148.8 million budget

July 22, 2013


The Lawrence school board gave preliminary approval to a budget for next year that calls for slightly higher spending and a slightly smaller property tax rate than this year's budget.

But the document gives only skeletal details of the district's actual spending plan for next year. It shows how much would be spent out of various funds in the budget, and how much tax would have to be levied. But it offers no details about how that money would be divided between instructional costs, administration, building maintenance and other kinds of expenses.

The two main funds that make up the district's basic operating accounts – the general fund and Local Operating Budget – would increase to $92.4 million, about $2.6 million more than this year. Those funds are determined by formulas set out in state law that are based on student enrollment.

Assistant superintendent Kyle Hayden said further details will be released later, in advance of the public hearing scheduled for Aug. 12.

For the owner of a $200,000 home, the school district budget would cost $1,332 in property taxes – about $2 less than the owner of such a home would have paid this year.

Publishing the draft budget sets the upper limit for what the school district can levy and spend next year. After the public hearing, the board will vote on a final budget that is either equal to or less than the published draft budget.

For that reason, district finance director Kathy Johnson said some parts of the budget – special revenue funds that do not involve property tax dollars – call for more spending authority than the district actually intends to use.

But without a certain amount of cushion, she said, the district would have to go through a lengthy process of republishing the budget in the event certain fee funds or federal grants come in higher than normal.

Net spending for the 2012-2013 school year was just under $126 million.

The draft budget does call for a large increase in capital outlay expenses next year - $17 million, compared to $5.3 million this year. But Johnson said that is the result of carrying over unspent capital outlay money from previous years. She said the mill levy used to fund capital outlay will remain the same.

Bond sale

The school board also approved the sale of $36 million in bonds. That represents the first portion of the $92.5 million bond issue that district voters approved in the April 2 elections.

David Arteberry, the district's bond advisor from George K. Baum and Co., said the net interest cost of that issue over 20 years will be about 3.8 percent.

Arteberry supervised bidding on the bonds earlier in the day. He said eight brokerage houses bid on the bond issue, with the low interest rate being offered by the firm Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley and Co. of Chicago.

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