12/23/2013 12:32:00 PM Residents to see school portion of taxes decrease
By David Richards
The Byron school board unanimously passed a $15.6 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year at its Dec. 17 board meeting held at the Byron High School board room.
The board also approved a levy decrease of 10.53 percent compared with last year's increase of 2.09 percent.
In simpler terms, Jennifer Walsh, director of business operations for the district, said residents whose home is assessed around the $150,000 to $200,000 range can expect a decrease of $200 on the school's portion of their annual property taxes.
"Going into a potential vote, that's good news for our taxpayers," Walsh said.
At the same meeting, the board also approved a bond election for March 11, 2014 to build a new school that would house pre-kindergarten through second grades that would ultimately raise taxes.
The district is hoping to build in light of both current and its forecasted resident growth.
The levy decrease is a direct result of both a net increase of the general fund of $106,826 related to restricted expense budgets and an increase in the district's enrollment. Last year, the approved $13.8 million 2012-2013 school budget was based on an average daily membership of 1,854 students districtwide, while the 2013-2014 budget is based on an average daily membership of 1,910.
Other highlights of the budget include a net addition of $311,413 in salaries and benefits to general fund expenditures and a net decrease of $62,431 in non-payroll unassigned expense budgets, which covers items such as maintenance costs toward the school's iPad program.
Walsh also announced an unassigned fund balance, or reserve, of 16.04 percent for fiscal year 2013.
The board has stated it prefers to keep the reserve around eight percent, although Walsh said for a future meeting, she would ask the board to consider preferring the balance to be closer to 10 to 12 percent.
"We are not in the business of building large fund balances, we're in the business of educating our students," Walsh said when reiterating the board's preference of 8 percent. "But we also want to be fiscally responsible."
Board chair Matt Prigge said as it is, 16 percent only gives the district about a month's worth of reserves if needed.