School board adopts tentative millage, budget

-A A +A
By Jenna McKenna

“Now remember, anything we do here tonight is temporary,” said Bob Clemons, Finance Director for Levy County Schools. The School Board of Levy County was convened in the first public hearing to approve the tentative millage and tentative budget for the 2009-2010 school year.

Clemons was reminding the board that he would be presenting two possible millages: the first at 7.5010, and the second at 7.7510. After hearing his presentation, the board voted unanimously to accept Option Two, which would hold the millage rate at 7.7510, and the temporary budget numbers drawn from that millage.

The board will hold one more hearing to finalize the millage and budget on Sept. 8, after students have returned to school and enrollment figures have finalized. A portion of the district’s state funding is based on actual enrollment.

The difference between the two options is significant. Option One will cost a taxpayer with a property valued at $130,000 about $30 less than Option Two. However, if the district chooses Option Two, the state will subsidize an additional $351,578 over the $515,764 the quarter mill in question is expected to raise from Levy County property owners.

“I’ve talked to plenty of people about it (holding the millage rate up by .25),” Clemons said.

“They’re all in favor of it, as long as it doesn’t raise taxes.”

Clemons said of the total estimated $887,000 that Option Two would bring the district, about $500,000 could be applied to salaries, including the possible rehire of some of the staff lost in last spring’s layoffs. The remaining $300,000-some should be applied to the General Fund, which the district will need when stimulus funds dry up after the 2010-2011 school year.

“Starting off with about $1.9 million left in the General Fund,” Clemons said, “I propose we allot some $300,000 to build it up; that will make for a softer landing when we fall off that cliff two years from now.”

Superintendent Bob Hastings had the plainest explanation of the difference between the two plans, as it applies to the school district. Noting that Option One would bring in about $200,000 less in base revenues than Option Two, he said, “not only would we not get the $887,000, we’d also be around $200,000 in the hole.”