Proposed 2011-2012 budget includes mill levy decrease for USD 232 patrons

De Soto USD 232's proposed 2011-2012 budget has one very noticeable, positive note: the district's mill levy could be decreasing by 1.5 mills thanks to a five percent increase in state aid for bonded interest and a nearly three percent in aid increase for the supplemental, or local option, budget.

"The potential savings to our patrons may not be huge but [the district] always feels [a reduction] is a step in the right direction," said District Finance Director Ken Larsen.

To break the numbers down, the proposed mill decrease would mean that for each $100,000 of assessed valuation on a home, the property owner would see a $15.29 reduction in taxes.

"It's not a huge decrease but it does add up," Larsen said.

Overall, the proposed budget of $48,274,429 is a $900K increase from the 2010-2011 budget. According to Larsen, the primary reason for the increased budget is the expectation for increased enrollment. Already the preliminary numbers for enrollment show a slight increase.

Enrollment factors into the district budget through the base state aid per pupil (BSAPP), which is down more than $200 this year to $3,780. Last year the state cut the BSAPP mid-year, Larsen is hopeful that won't happen this year thanks to the state's recent increase in revenues.

"It's good news for us that Kansas has a higher revenue than projected but as always we'll just do the best we can with what we're given," Larsen said. "That's our goal year to year."

While the district isn't making any cuts this year, Larsen warns that continuing to meet that goal will require reductions next year and beyond.

"We're holding steady this year but we need to be ready to make cuts in the future," he said. "We already have a finance committee in place that will begin meeting this fall to prepare for whatever is thrown at us in the coming years."

The Board of Education will meet on Monday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. to have a public hearing regarding the proposed budget and to vote on its approval.

Board President Tammy Thomas sees the proposed budget as an example of the district's increasing efficiency.

"People in the district are becoming more unified, we're not being held back by boundaries of 'that's not my job' because we all have the same focus of being mindful of the tax payers' money," she said. "We're doing what we can to streamline things and are always aware we're spending someone else's money."

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