Archive for Monday, July 28, 2014

Editorial: Tax trade-off

A reduction in the school district’s property tax levy is good news for taxpayers but not such good news for the schools.

July 28, 2014


Many local taxpayers were pleasantly surprised by last week’s news that the Lawrence school district would propose a budget that would actually lower their property taxes.

A decline of nearly 1.6 mills in the district’s tax levy is good news for taxpayers, who are facing increases in both city and county property taxes. Hopefully, it is not seriously bad news for the school district, which might have levied higher taxes if they hadn’t been constrained by state law.

The district’s budget, which will be considered by the Lawrence school board tonight, is largely driven by state formulas based on enrollment, student poverty levels and district wealth. Although the Lawrence district benefited from an increase of $14 per student in state aid, it also was hurt by other changes.

For instance, virtual students no longer are counted among the district’s total enrollment when it calculates its local option budget (LOB) authority. So even though the Lawrence district raised its LOB levy from 31 percent to 33 percent of its general fund total, that levy actually will raise less money than it did last year.

The district has maxed out its ability under state law to levy taxes, according to Superintendent Rick Doll, while state funding has fallen back to about 1999 levels.

Presumably the district has been able to meet its commitment to finance a $92.5 million bond issue approved in April 2013 without adding to the local tax burden, but there aren’t many things that don’t cost more today than they did in 1999. Next year’s budget, for instance, includes an average pay raise of 2 percent for district personnel, which is hardly extravagant.

With both the city and county seeking property tax increases to fund their 2015 budgets, most taxpayers will welcome the school district’s proposed tax decrease. It’s important to keep in mind, however, the toll that state funding changes are taking on the ability of the Lawrence district and other districts across the state to maintain high quality staff and educational services.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

I would say keep it and share with the teaching staff. However I believe state law will not allow for this money to be spent on teachers.

Dave Trabert 1 year, 2 months ago

State funding is well above 1999 levels. According to KSDE, what is recorded as state funding (which is only what is run through the state budget and is much lower than actual funding provided by the legislature) totaled $4,706 per-pupil, which includes $173 for KPERS that was reported separately until 2005. Even adjusted for inflation, it would have been $6,471 in 2013 but the actual amount was $6,984.

Now let's look at total funding. 1999 funding adjusted for KPERS was $7,396. Inflation would take it to $10,170 but actual funding was $12,781...26% above inflation.

And total funding doesn't include aid that was diverted to increase operating cash balances. We only have cash balances back to 2005, but even in that short period over $430 million was diverted to cash balance increases. USD 497 accounts for $34 million of that increase.

Aid for 2014 and 2015 will be even higher.

Why can't Mr. Doll be honest about funding levels? If he thinks it should be higher, then he should say so and explain his rationale. Making false claims is a disservice to citizens.

James Howlette 1 year, 2 months ago

It's above 1999 levels because it was unconstitutionally underfunded until the Montoy decision, for one thing. Why can't you be honest about the fact that you're a Koch-sponsored dark-money lobby group with a goal of school privatization? You're doing a disservice to citizens.

Steve King 1 year, 2 months ago

Uh gosh Dave. You sure have gall. "Making false claims is a disservice to citizens" is what you do. I've seen you called out a dozen times on these pages and when confronted with your disappear. If only it would last.

Oh and it's Dolph not Doll...

Dave Trabert 1 year, 2 months ago

Super's name is Doll...he made the claim. Complaining about the facts I post is not disproving them. Can you provide an example of a false statement I made?

No comment on the facts I posted?

James Howlette 1 year, 2 months ago

"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. " You cite facts out of context, frame them misleadingly, and leave out details and then complain that you're sooo unfairly attacked because you used data from a KSDE source.

Dave Trabert 1 year, 2 months ago

We can always count on the New York Times for inaccurate info. School funding was not cut 16.5 percent. It was increased. The authors are relying on bogus info from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Note that none of these pieces quote official KSDE data. We do.

James Howlette 1 year, 2 months ago

We can always count on the Koch brothers for funding the misleadingly framed and out of context information you come here to post, Dave.

Steve King 1 year, 2 months ago

All one has to do is look at your comment history Dave. You've been proven to cherry pick your numbers time and time again by those much more learned than I. You specifically use cut off dates that enhance your ramblings. Face it Dave your a Koch stooge and we all know it. Come November the winds of change are coming and you and your like will be regulated to the dustbin of "what was wrong with Kansas" it was paid partisans like you. The GOPTP days are quickly coming to an end. I cant wait.

Philipp Wannemaker 1 year, 2 months ago

Gee, Dave, why does any intelligent person immediately know when they see your name on anything posted that it is a lie? Obviously you are being well paid for that skill, otherwise how could you look at your face in the mirror each morning.

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