Norfolk school board approves budget; levy to decline by one cent

September 12, 2018 GMT

The Norfolk Public Schools board of education is providing property taxpayers with a bit of a break for the coming year.

At its meeting Monday night at the central administration office, board members passed both the tax resolution and budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year — both on a 6-0 vote.

The 2018-19 general fund budget is $67,305,584.68, which includes the district’s cash reserve. The budget for actual expenditures is $46,038,710.43.

The budget will allow the district to operate without using existing cash reserves or increasing the overall property tax levy, said Bill Robinson, associate superintendent.

The 2018-19 tax request is a levy of $1.18 per $100 of assessed valuation, which is a decrease of one cent from last year’s levy of $1.19. The levy comprises one dollar for the general fund, five cents for the building fund and 13 cents for the bond fund.

Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, superintendent of schools, said the budget is “very solid” this year. Although the district lost $350,000 in state aid, tax valuations increased by 5.44 percent, mainly because of increases in residential and commercial property as compared to agricultural property, she said.

Agricultural land actually decreased in value, “which should result in a property tax reduction for most of our local farmers,” she said.

An individual property owner’s actual tax bill doesn’t solely depend on whether a single tax-collecting entity, such as a school district, decreases its levy. Whether a property owner’s valuation increased is another key factor, as well as the cumulative total tax requests for all governmental entities that collect property taxes.

The school board plans to use the impact of the tax valuation increase to fully fund seven new teaching positions to address an increase in enrollment, as well as pay for a school resource officer for Norfolk Junior High School, Thompson said.

It also will help offset part of the costs related to the renovation of the district’s 25th Street property and a reduction the district received in Title 1 and Title 2 aid funding.

Thompson said the board works to balance students’ needs while staying cognizant of financial impact on taxpayers. Fifty-nine percent of Nebraska’s public school funding comes from local sources, primarily property taxes.

“I think it’s safe to say we pride ourselves in providing students with outstanding educational opportunities at an economical cost to our local taxpayers,” Thompson said. “We realize the financial impact this has on local constituents, so we work hard to balance the need of our students for high-quality education with our taxpayers’ property tax reduction — even as we make adjustments to staff and facilities to meet our higher enrollment.”

The district’s property tax levy has decreased 14 cents since 2010, Thompson said.

Before the resolution, the board first conducted its annual budget and tax hearings, during which no members of the public spoke.