The USD 503 Board of Education approved the district’s 2019-2020 budget for publication, and it includes a decrease in the mill levy that will benefit taxpayers.
Several years back the district refinanced two voter-approved bond projects, one for Parsons Middle School and the second for Parsons High School and the three elementary schools, allowing for lower interest rates and $162,752 in savings.
The district is approaching the September 2020 payoff of the bond and interest, dropping the levy this fiscal year from 13.05 mills to 5.67 mills.
“The reason the bond and interest is going down by seven mills is because we’ve carried $1 million as a cushion in that account going back to 2012. We are just using that cushion to pay for what we owe, so it will bring that down to where you see it now,” USD 503 business manager Tonya Phillips told the board during its special meeting Wednesday.
The money that remains after paying the bond off can remain if board members may consider a new bond issue in the next two to five years, or district staff can place it in the general fund, Phillips said,
That change in debt lowers the overall mill levy from 54.508 mills to 47.556.
However, board member Roger Duroni raised the question of the recent debt created by the lease-purchase agreement to buy new buses for the district, equating to $1,683,597 owed at a 2.65 interest rate through 2031.
“Here’s my recommendation,” board president Mike Kastle said. “We can raise our capital outlay to eight mills, which would be a four-mill increase, so next year it would be still be a little over a one mill decrease while paying this off early.”
Kastle said with district’s valuation, the four-mill increase would generate about $225,000 annually.
“You add that to the $165,000 we’re paying now, take the interest off and you’re going to reduce this by about $350,000 a year and have five years payoff,” Kastle said.
The capital outlay increase would require a resolution and board vote, so it would have to be taken up in the near future.
For now, taxpayers can plan on the seven-mill decrease.
The approved budget for publication is $13,321,485, an increase of $740,153 over last year.
A mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. The owner of a $50,000 home in Parsons will pay $273.45 next year to support the Parsons school district, a savings of about $40.
In other business, the board:
— Discussed and tabled a pay scale schedule for classified staff.
— Approved a five-year technology plan.
— Discussed and tabled a five-year facility plan.
— Discussed and tabled policy changes for teacher cell phones and graduation.
— Hired Nikki Brownewell as high school secretary; Ashley DeVore as fourth grade teacher; Tina Heydenrych as middle school secretary/student council sponsor; Leroy Jones as bus driver; John Keene as bus driver; Wes Krull as middle school head football coach; Dean Mahan as bus driver; Sue smith as assistant food service coordinator; and Nathan Strathe as middle school boys assistant basketball coach.