Draft budget of $259 includes factory tax reduction

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Wichita Public Schools could see a budget increase of nearly $5 million and a decrease in factory tax.

USD 259’s chief financial officer, Susan Willis, presented a draft budget to the school board earlier this week. She said some numbers could change before the next August 8 meeting.

The factory tax should decrease by 1.038. The property value and the mill are used to calculate the taxes due on a property. Since property values ​​have risen more than mill tax has fallen, most homeowners could still pay more tax than last year – but less than if mill tax stayed the same .

Rising property values ​​are one reason for the decline, Willis said.

“We’re trying to give some of that back to taxpayers,” Willis said. “They are going to have to pay more anyway because their assessed ratings are higher. If our factory fee is the same or higher, it only makes this problem worse. »

The extra money in the Supplementary General Fund last year paved the way for the decrease.

“Last year’s cash balance was high enough that we could bring this factory take a little,” Willis said.

School funding is based on the number of students each district educates. Districts receive a base amount for each full-time student, and then additional per-student funds based on their needs — like transportation, free lunches and more. This same formula is applied to every district in Kansas. This basic assistance per student increases by 3% each year and now amounts to $4,847 per student.

Together, the operating funds — general and additional general — amount to approximately $521 million.

Most of the general fund (of which the project has $391,779,209) goes to teacher salaries, and a portion to special education and at-risk funding. Wichita uses the additional general fund (which is proposed at $129,536,885) to pay for utilities, transportation, technology and business services.

The teacher increases were decided during negotiations with United Teachers of Wichita in the spring – they include a 1.75% salary scale improvement, a one-time bonus of 2.75% for eligible employees in December, a bonus one-time 2.5% for eligible employees in May and milestones, leads and longevity for eligible individuals.

Capital expenditure will increase by approximately $41 million to $101,283,001. Willis said the extra money will go towards HVAC and air quality, among other possible projects.

“A lot [is] kind of these pandemic-related projects,” Willis said. “We’re going to have kind of a very good start in 23 before 24, and we’re trying to do all that work.”

The special liability fund — used for insurance costs — will increase by more than $2 million.

“We’re trying to put some money in…if we had a hail claim, or something like that happened, also things like cyber liability and that kind of stuff,” Willis said. “We kind of slowly pumped money into this particular fund, at some point we’ll probably cap it. … It just gives us a bit more flexibility as we try to save money in other areas.

Another possible big increase is the boilerplate program, which is increasing by more than $2 million. This money will go towards supplies, equipment, and cover rising costs without increasing costs to families.

The boilerplate program has received several grants related to the pandemic.

A public hearing and vote on the budget are scheduled for August 22.