School board ponders tax increase options

When the school board digs into the budget over the next two months, it will have to take a look at a tax increase.

The rough-cut budget shows a deficit of $2.7 million after using more than $600,000 in committed fund balance.

Possible adds and cuts were introduced and discussed at Monday’s special meeting of the board.

Director of Business Services Jim Grosch also presented information about the board’s options in the way of property taxes.

Because the board voted not to raise taxes above the index for the year, it cannot go above an increase of 1.826 mills.

Grosch presented information that shows what that maximum increase would look like to property owners.

A mill represents $1 in taxes per $1,000 of assessed value.

“At the current millage, the taxes on a property assessed at $40,000 would be $2,213.48,” he said. The max increase would change that tax number to $2,286.52. That’s an increase of $73.04 or $6.09 per month.

An increase of 1.826 mills would bring Warren County School District about $745,000 more in taxes.

That would leave the board looking for another $2 million or so in cuts.

Administration brought proposed cuts to the board on Monday.

A reduction of the staff by three elementary teachers could be accomplished without changing the district’s preferences for elementary class sizes — no more than 22 in kindergarten, first, and second grades, and no more than 30 in grades three through five.

“We would cut three FTE (full-time teacher equivalents) just through declining enrollment,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said.

Going to class sizes maximums of 25 for kindergarten through second and 32 for third through fifth “would save one more” FTE, Stewart said.

The board is expected to prioritize the potential adds and cuts this week. Administration will prepare that information for comparison to the budget deficit for Monday’s committee meetings.