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School’s Final Tax Levy Hinges On Federal Funds

The District School Board acted last Thursday, Aug. 12, on the tax resolution.

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The District School Board submitted their tax resolution to the County Board of Supervisors Friday, Aug. 13 in order to meet the Aug. 15 deadline.

But, questions remain as to how much money school officials are actually going to need from local taxpayers.

The resolution asks the supervisors to levy sufficient millage to generate $1,374,718 for the 2010-2011 school year for the district’s maintenance fund; $101,585 to meet the general obligation bond debt service schedule; and $90,810 to meet the transportation debt service schedule.

This resolution was the higher of two presented to the School Board on Monday, Aug. 9. The other asked for $1,270,917 to be generated for the Maintenance Fund, a difference of $103,801.

Board members originally expected to go with the lesser amount because of legislation signed by President Obama last week that extends Medicaid reimbursement to the states. Those funds will free up money for education budgets in Mississippi.

However, the reimbursements are not as much as anticipated making it unclear how funding allocations to school districts may change.

“They have not figured out the actual funding on it yet,” District Business Manager Randy Goodwin said. “We know we’re getting money, but we just don’t know how much money.”

District officials plan to amend the tax resolution if they get the final figures before Sept. 15 when the millage rate is set. “Whatever the federal government through the state gives us, we will reduce the tax levy by that dollar amount,” Goodwin said. “We’re going to ask for the least amount we can ask for.”

The school board would have normally approved the tax resolution at their July 19 meeting. Instead, that held off awaiting action in the nation’s capitol. Finally they were able to act last Thursday, Aug. 12 after the President signed the Bill.

During the noon recessed meeting, board members emphasized that they weren’t seeking additional funds for the budget, which had already been finalized and adopted July 19.

“We’re not asking for more money,” Board member Taylor Trusty said.

“That’s what our constituents need to know,” added Board member Casey Washington.

Washington asked the District Business Manager how taxpayers would ultimately be affected. “They’ll pay more,” Goodwin answered.

He explained that the assessed value of the county dropped last year. That 2.3 percent drop means that taxpayers will pay more to generate the same amount of money.

Washington said that the school is the best investment we’ve got in this county. “And, I don’t care what anyone says. This is better than any industry that we’ve got. Without education industry doesn’t exist.”

“If we can’t fund anything else in this county, we can fund education,” he added.

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