Lawrence school board to review proposed budget; details unavailable Sunday

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The Lawrence school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, at 110 McDonald Drive. Masks are required because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key points — the board will:

Hear a budget overview from Executive Director of Finance Kathy Johnson and consider approving the proposed annual mill levies and maximum budget expenditures for publication.

It will also set a schedule for public budget hearings.


↪ Context:

The district is facing ongoing challenges from rising costs, inflation and reductions in school funding due to an enrollment loss of almost 700 students last school year.

Details of the proposed budget were not included with the meeting agenda as of Sunday afternoon.

↪ What it means:

The school board approves the maximum levels of budget authority and mill levy for the district.

The mill levy is the tax rate applied to the assessed value of property. It’s made up of local and statewide portions, and it’s determined by the amounts that governing bodies determine are needed for funding.

The Lawrence City Commission, Douglas County Commission and Lawrence school board each approve tax rates every year for funding needed to support the City of Lawrence, county functions and Lawrence Public Schools, respectively.

The county appraiser’s office determines a property’s assessed value, which is used to determine the amount of property taxes its owner must pay.

One mill = $1 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

↪ What it means to you:

As noted above, the details of the district’s proposed budget were not yet available Sunday.

Last year’s budget can be found at this link. The district’s mill levy for 2020 was 53.122 mills, which means that the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $1,176 in taxes to the district.

Budgets are published higher than anticipated spending, according to a memo in the school board’s agenda packet. “If resources are not received, or enrollment weightings are less than estimated, spending authority will be less than the published budget.”

Line item details within published, approved budgets can change with board decisions, but the maximum budgets and mill levies can’t be exceeded.

↪ A new step:

This year, the Kansas Legislature’s approval of Senate Bill 13 adds another step to the district’s budget process — the revenue neutral rate hearing.

The law defines revenue neutral rate as “the tax rate for the current tax year that would generate the same property tax revenue as levied the previous tax year using the current tax year’s total assessed valuation.”

The new law sets requirements for a governing body — in this case, the school board — to inform taxpayers and receive public input before approving a budget, if a proposed budget includes a tax increase related to assessed property valuations or property tax increases.

Tentative back-to-back budget hearings are scheduled for 6 p.m. and 6:05 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, at district offices.

Find the full board meeting agenda and related documents here.

Watch the live board meeting via livestream here or tune in to Midco Channel 26 at 6 p.m. Monday. To sign up to share public comments in person or via WebEx, email before 6 p.m. Monday. Patrons will receive a link to join the videoconference by phone or video conferencing.

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