BEA hikes levy 12%
The Blue Earth Area School Board passed a resolution to set the 2014 tax levy, payable in 2015, at the maximum allotment of $1,878,066.36, a 12 percent increase over last year.
BEAS finance officer Al Wilhelmi reviewed the parameters of the 2014-2015 levy increase during the Truth in Taxation public hearing last Monday at the BEA School Board meeting.
In a comparison between the June 2014 audit report and the projected budget for the coming year, BEAS is looking at a 1.5 percent revenue increase but Wilhelmi predicts that number will drop because of a decline in student enrollment.
“I would say that the general fund gap (2.16 percent) might even close a little when we take student enrollment into consideration,” Wilhelmi explained.
The projected expenditure budget for next year has also increased by 10.52 percent.
“The general fund gap (12.2 percent) looks bigger on the budget report because we were actually under budget last year,” said Superintendent Evan Gough. “When you consider the 1:1 Initiative, building costs and the new bus purchase, we can see why the expenditure gap has widened.”
The sum of those three expenditures totals nearly $1 million and because last year’s budget was lacking, the difference will be made up in the coming years. Next, Wilhelmi summarized how the 2015 school taxes will be spent.
The General Fund provides additional funding for instructional courses, operating capital, health and safety and transportation. It will consume 72.31 percent of the 2015 taxes.
The Community Services Fund a levy for Community Education Programs will take 7.69 percent; and the General Debt Service a levy for repayment of principal and interest on district debt will use up the remaining 20.01 percent.
In other School Board news, Superintendent Gough announced that $30,000 was raised at the Nov. 22 Bucs Night Out.
“It’s great that our five communities can come together like this to make a contribution to the school district,” said Gough.
In regards to the Digital Learning Open House held Dec. 2-4 at each of the three Blue Earth Area Schools, School Board member Sheila Ripley and School Board Chairperson Frankie Bly commented on the success of the event.
“It’s nice to be able to see where the kids are at,” Ripley said. “If a teacher notices a wrong answer, they can address it right then and there; feedback is instantaneous.”
Approximately 30 community members turned out for the event.
Lastly, the board passed a resolution calling for an update for the chiller at the BEA High School.
The board received two base bids: Feder Mechanical gave an estimate of $137,200 and Javens Mechanical proposed $117,434.
According to Gough, because of a positive experience had in the past, the board carried a motion to hire Javens Mechanical for the job.