Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

USD 437 Approves Budget Vote ; Auburn-Washburn Patrons to Decide If District Will Raise Local Option Budget

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

USD 437 Approves Budget Vote ; Auburn-Washburn Patrons to Decide If District Will Raise Local Option Budget

Article excerpt

Patrons of the Auburn-Washburn Unified School District 437 will get the chance to decide if the district is going to raise its local option budget, or LOB, to offset many of the cuts to general state aid in the next two budget years.

Meeting on Sunday, USD 437 board of education members unanimously approved a resolution that authorizes a mail-in ballot to be returned to the Shawnee County Elections Office no later than June 16, asking district patrons whether they want to raise the LOB to 33 percent of the district's general state aid, up from the current 30 percent allowed by state law.

If approved by a majority of voters, the increased LOB will mean the owner of a $200,000 home will pay an additional $64.63 annually, or $5.39 more a month, in property taxes. State law requires a mail- in election be held in order to raise the LOB over the current 30 percent of general state aid allowed by statute.

With block grant funding approved by Kansas lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback this spring, USD 437 is looking at a mix of raising the LOB, dipping into contingency reserves and raising fees to make up for losses under the new block grant funding for the next two years.

"With this block grant staring us in the face," board member Jim Gartner said, "we just have to move forward."

Bruce Stiles, USD 437's director of business services, told board members that more than $666,000 in supplemental state aid to the LOB is going to be lost for the current budget year that ends June 30.

"If the local option budget is to increase, it has to happen with property taxes," Stiles told board members.

If the majority of USD 437 patrons vote "yes" to raise the LOB to 33 percent, the higher LOB must be in place by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

In approving the resolution, superintendent Brenda Dietrich emphasized to board members that they aren't raising property taxes.

"You have no authority to raise property taxes," she said. …

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