Mark Taylor
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The Spring Hill School District is proposing a 2011-12 budget that decreases the district’s mill levy for a fourth consecutive year.
The board voted on July 25 to publish a budget with a tax levy of 65.362 mills.
That represents a steady drop from 2007-08’s 69.913.
“Over about a five year period we are down about 5 mills,” Doug Schwinn, business manager told the school board.  “I would say there are very few districts in the state that can boast of that accomplishment. We are very proud of that.”
If adopted as published, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay about $1,073 in school taxes for the 2011-12 school year.
Schwinn said the mill levy decrease is despite steadily declining state aid per pupil.
He said state funding is lower than it was 10 years ago and this year’s state aid equates to a zero percent increase over a 12 year period.
Base state aid per pupil dropped from $4,400 to $4,318 in 2009, which was less than the amount of state aid granted in the 2005-06 school year ($4,257).
In 2010, base state aid per pupil decreased again, to $4,012.
In 2011, base state aid per pupil is down to $3,870, which Schwinn said is the lowest level since the 1999-2000 schoool year.
“Hopefully we have hit bottom but I think until we know the economy has started to turn we may not have hit bottom just yet,” Schwinn said.
Superintendent Barton Goering added, “We don’t have the option of raising the debt ceiling.”
Schwinn said the bulk of the proposed budget (55 percent) goes toward instruction costs, including teacher salaries.
The district’s assessed valuation is expected to increase slightly next school year to $123.2 million. The 2010-11 assessed valuation was 122.070 million, a more than $5 million drop from $127.733 million in 2009-10.
Goering said he believes Spring Hill’s future assessed valuation will benefit from the intermodal logistics park under construction in Ederton.
That development is expected to be completed and operational in late 2013.
Eric Boyle, board member, said he was pleased that the district has been able to lower the mill levy every year for the last four years while funding levels are the lowest the district has received in 10 years.
Goering said if the budget is adopted as published, Spring Hill would likely have the second or third lowest mill levy among the six Johnson County school districts.