Taxpayers saving as the St. Regis school budget less than expected

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St. Regis Schools Superintendent Joe Steele was pleased to announce that this year’s budget came in $178,000 less than originally anticipated. That results in a tax savings for local residents.

“I met with various community members who said that the population is getting older and more are on a fixed income, and so they really can’t afford any more levies and taxes increase. We worked hard to keep those numbers down and we saw an overall decrease as a result,” Steele said.

In April, the school published a “worse-case” scenario with budget projections, which turned out to be less than anticipated. Bus depreciation decreased 2.22 mills from 2.76 mills; the tuition mill that helps to serve special education students went down to 2.7 from 3.10 mills; adult education went down .06 mills, and the building reserve went down 1.62. Overall, last year’s mills were approximately 2.55, and this year they are 2.33 — a decrease of .22 mills.

“We brought it down quite a bit and this was on top of taxable property values going down, which usually means you need to increase your mills to get the same amount of revenue,” he said. “But we were able to reduce it anyway and keep our budget under control.”

Currently, one big project St. Regis School is undertaking is to repair the roof. Half of the $400,000 project is being paid through building reserve funds. The other half they are hoping to get from a federal grant. “We are trying to find resources that doesn’t put a burden on the taxpayers,” Steele said.

In 2017, the Senate passed Bill 307, which gave school districts the authority to run up to a 10-mill permissive levy in order to raise funds for school expenses. The problem with the bill is that the deadline is March 31 and school districts don’t know how much funding they will receive from the state until the summer. They also don’t have up-to-date taxable property values until early August. This can result in the school board passing a resolution guessing what the permissive levies are going to be and what the taxable values may be.

“We had good money management and rollover money which helped with the decrease,” Steele said. “Luckily, the budget came in well below projections.”

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