LOCS Board of Education holds ‘Truth in Budget and Taxation’ hearing, approves technology bid awards

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

With the end of the year approaching, LOCS is working toward amending their final budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and adopting a new budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The financial aspects of the meeting were kicked off with Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald heading the “Truth in Budget and Taxation” hearing.

By law, LOCS must conduct a hearing and allow the community an opportunity to speak on the proposed fiscal year budget and tax levy.

The proposed tax levy will be applied on all applicable qualifying property on July 1 of this year.

The levy consists of the General Fund Operating Millage rate of 18 mills (the maximum legally allowed), the Debt Retirement Millage rate at 7.4910 mills (the total voted debt fund authorized and allowable) and the Building and Site Sinking Fund millage rate at 1.9454 mills.

The General Fund Operating Millage Rate was authorized by the community on Nov. 4, 2014 at a rate of 20.25 mills and expires on June 30, 2025.

This rate often has the potential to be reduced by the “Headlee” Millage Reduction Fraction. This means that if the tax base’s taxable value increased due to inflation, the authorized millage rate is reduced.

For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, after applying the MRF reduction of .1788 mills, the “Headlee” adjusted authorized operating millage rate will be 19.2548 mills. However, legally districts can only levy up to 18.00 mills. Therefore, the actual levy for the 2019-2020 fiscal year will be 18.0 mills.

The estimated tax revenue for the General Fund is $8,148,906.

The Debt Retirement Millage Rate will remain at the allowable limit of 7.4910 mills. However, the district’s debt service payments will not be fully funded by this millage. Because of this, the district will be borrowing from the School Loan Revolving Fund for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The estimated tax revenue for the Debt Service Fund(s) is $15,244,810.

The “Headlee” adjusted authorized operating millage rate for the Building and Site Sinking Fund Millage Rate for the 2019-2020 saw a MRF reduction of .0153 mills. This drops the millage from 1.9607 mills in 2018-2019 to 1.9454 mills for the upcoming fiscal year.

The estimated tax revenue from the Building and Site Sinking Fund is $3,959,051.

According to the district, “one mill of tax levy on a parcel of property with a taxable value of $100,000 will produce $100 of tax revenue.”

Fitzgerald also spoke on the final budget amendment for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

The total fund balance at the end of the year was $7,824,641. The General Fund’s expenditure budget increase exceeded the increase in the revenue budget whch dropped the operating surplus $94,978 to $187,323.

Additionally, the final amendment adjusts the operating revenue and expenditure budgets for the General Fund, Pine Tree Center Fund, Community Services Fund, Food Service Fund, Debt Service Funds, District Capital Project Fund, Building and Site Fund, Bond Series 1 – Capital Project Fund and Internal Services Fund.

Bond bid awards:

As budget talks came to a close, Fitzgerald moved on to several new bid awards for new district technology.

In series one of the bond, teachers will receive mobile workstations and mobile device storage. This work will be contracted through Yeo & Yeo Computer Consulting in the amount of $119,052 and an additional $11,905, 10 percent contingency, will be managed by the district. The total cost for this project is estimated at $130,957.

Also in series one of the bond, the district will be installing audio-visual systems in middle school gymnasiums and installing televisions for new and information broadcasts at the high school in seven common area locations. This will be contracted through Advanced Lighting and Sound in the amount of $249,434.

Lastly, the board awarded the bid for preferred vendor and device purchasing to Sehi Computer Products, Inc. for three years with the option to renew for two additional three-year terms.

The initial purchase of devices throughout the district is $1,101,482 and the district will manage a 10 percent contingency of $110,148. The total cost for this project is $1,211,630.

This year, high school staff will be receiving laptops and mobile desks, said Assistant Superintendent Heidi Mercer.

“This technology piece of the bond is a remainder for the next 10 years. There is approximately $2 million per year that is specific to devices, so each year we will be adding more and more,” said Mercer. “Next year, we will be targeting high school devices as well as student devices throughout the district. The following year we will target elementary and middle school staff devices.”

Also in the meeting:

• The school board honored 17 employees who are retiring from the district. School principals introduced each of their retiring staff members, wishing them happy and healthy retirements. The 17 retirees had a combined total of 383 years in the district.

• High School FLEX scheduling did not receive enough students to give the pilot the green light. Mercer attributed this to the fact that students had already begun forming their schedules when the program was offered. The district plans to try again next year.