Property taxes might increase as a result of the Lawrence school district’s increased mill levy, which the Lawrence school board gave initial approval Monday.
Board members unanimously approved the district’s maximum budget for publication for the upcoming year. As part of its budget approval process, the board will hold hearings on exceeding the revenue neutral rate and the budget itself at the Sept. 11 meeting.
The approved maximum mill levy, or tax rate, would add approximately 1.16 mills to the district’s current mill levy. Last year’s maximum budget decreased by about 1.1 mills from the previous year, but higher assessed valuations caused most property owners to pay more taxes anyway.
Under the approved mill levy, the owner of a home valued at $250,000 would pay about $1,410 in property taxes to the school district — about $64 more than last year. Assessed valuation is also increasing this year.
The district’s two operating funds are its general fund and Local Option Budget (LOB).
Each fiscal year ends on June 30, but the Kansas Department of Education doesn’t finalize its special education aid until June, which makes budgeting trickier, Executive Director of Finance Cynde Frick said. The district last year spent approximately $8.8 million out of its operating funds to support special education services, and it must comply with “Maintenance of Effort” requirements to spend a similar amount of money out of its own funding as it did the previous year.
“We did talk about having a separate presentation on special ed, because in terms of maintenance of effort and everything, it gets pretty complicated, so that will be a conversation within itself,” Frick said.
During its next meeting on Aug. 28, the board will look to approve the district’s final needs assessment as part of the budget process.
The hearing to exceed the revenue neutral rate is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, followed by the hearing to approve the 2023-24 budget.
Here’s Frick’s full presentation from Monday:20230814-USD-497-Budget-Presentation
In other business:
• First Management tax breaks: The board voted 4-3 to approve property tax rebates for First Management Inc. The company, owned by Doug Compton, will be renovating the vacant Borders building in downtown Lawrence into its corporate headquarters. Read more about that in this article.
• Amendments to board policy: Board members unanimously approved amendments to the “Textbooks, Instructional Materials and Media Centers” section of their policy manual to reflect who can make complaints about course material.
The policy has been updated to permit “any student, or parent or legal guardian of a student currently enrolled in the district” to file a complaint about textbooks, media center or other instructional materials.” Previous language allowed any person to make a complaint.