Rockridge levy rate is lower than previous year's

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

The Rockridge Board of Education held a hearing on next year's property tax levy, that had no comments from the audience.

Superintendent Jack Brambick recommended the board accept a decrease in the tax rate to 3.93857 per $100 of assessed valuation, down from last year's 3.97160. This tax rate will give the district a  $7,194,621, up from the previous year's $6,921,491 from property taxes.

Bambrick told the board the equalized assessed valuation had a significant increase from $182,670,000 to $184,300,000. His opinion on the increase in property values was not optimistic though. "I just don't think we're going to realize that," he said.

He showed the board a chart of the history of the district's tax rate that listed declining rates from 2004 to the present. He said in 2004 the district had a bond issue put in place for health, life, safety matters.

The board approved the proposed 2010 levy, collectible in 2011. The district's fiscal year runs from from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011.

In other financial matters Bambrick reported that the state had made good its 2009-10 payments to the school district, which at one point was beyond the $800,000 mark. "We've been made whole from what was owed us from last year," said Bambrick.

He said one reason the state was able to make up the money owed to the district was it sold bonds in anticipation of a tobacco settlement. "The state is borrowing an additional five percent more" than what the settlement would be. "We're behind $338,000 in payments (from the state) for this fiscal year," he added.

One area the state is supposedly supporting, he said, was pre-kindergarten programs that served students at risk. These programs would be grant supported and would be competitive.

"We don't know where we're going to end up this year," he cautioned. He said he had been told the transportation funds from the state were only going to be at 74 percent and that the district usually receives four payments a year. This fiscal year he is only expecting one payment. "The future looks bleak," he said.

He said the district had received $74,000 from the Education Recovery Act (ERA), "which is money for jobs that we would have paid out anyway; it's money we're getting back." This was a one time payment. "The funds are supposed to go away next year," he said.

He said the district's financial situation was projecting a $388,000 deficit, but now is $710,000 better than what was expected for this year. He added that the district would not be receiving any more ERA funds and "no more property tax money would be coming to the district for this year."

Bambrick told the board he was heading to Springfield on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010 for a meeting on mandatory categoricals.

Board member Dan Neneman said the district is expecting between $1.5 - $2 million owed to it by the state by the end of this fiscal year. He also commented positively on district employee's belt tightening, giving "kudos" to district employees for reducing supply line items. "The goal of $800,000 reduction is already out there," Neneman said.