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May 21, 2018
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Stillwater News

School budget process ongoing; next budget workshop Tuesday, March 29

March 28, 2016 – The Stillwater Board of Education continues to discuss a proposed 2016-17 spending plan while waiting for a final state budget.

Currently, the board is considering a tax levy increase of 4.81 percent for next year’s proposed budget, which remains below the district’s maximum allowable tax levy, as determined by a formula set by the state’s tax cap formula. According to the formula, Stillwater could go out with a 5.81 percent increase over the current year’s tax levy without requiring a supermajority vote (60 percent approval).

Based on information from the four towns that comprise the district, Stillwater officials expect to see growth in the district’s overall property assessments. About half of the anticipated tax levy increase would be generated from this assessment growth, and as a result district officials are projecting that most district residents would see roughly a 1.99 percent tax rate increase under the plan being considered.

Even with a 4.81 percent tax levy increase, the district is facing a gap of $866,934 between anticipated expenditures and revenues for the next school year, mostly due to contractual increases in employee salaries and health insurance.

Another factor contributing to the budget gap is the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which was introduced in 2010 as a way for the state government to close its budget deficit. Under the Governor’s budget proposal that was released in January, Stillwater still faces a GEA of more than $371,000 in aid being withheld from the district.
While the Senate and the Assembly have fully restored the GEA in their proposed state budgets, district officials continue to wait on the final approved state budget. They’re hopeful the $371,000 will be returned to Stillwater, and that the district will ultimately receive additional foundation aid.

“We as a district know how important education is and our state leaders know how important education is. In order to provide our students with what they need to succeed, we need the state to fully fund its own funding formula for education,” said Stillwater Superintendent Stanley Maziejka.

The board is also contemplating allocating approximately $500,000 from the district’s undesignated fund balance to close any remaining gap. Fund balance is essentially a district’s savings account and the money is often used to support student programs without further increasing local taxes.

The final state budget is expected to be approved by April 1. At that time, district officials will have final state aid projections for next year.

The last budget workshop will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, in the MS/HS library. The board expects to adopt a 2016-17 budget proposal on April 5, and the annual budget vote and BOE election is set for Tuesday, May 17. Polls will be open from 12 noon to 9 p.m. in the old Stillwater Middle School gym.

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