Lee County adopts school budget that won’t result in tax increase

8Y2Q_djournal_education_school_bus_buses_stockBy Chris Kieffer
Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Lee County School Board approved on Tuesday the district’s $68.17 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The budget will not result in a tax increase, as the district will remain at 62.21 mills for operation and debt combined.

Tuesday’s budget is similar to the one presented at last week’s budget hearing. It will be funded by $65.67 million in revenue, meaning the district will have to draw about $2.5 million from its fund balance.

Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said it is forced to do that because of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program not being fully funded. Although the amount in the fund balance fluctuates, business manager Michael Martin said the fund would still remain comfortably above the required 7 percent of district’s maintenance budget, or about $3 million.

However, he said, the district can not sustain a hit that large for too many years.

The district will spend $46.3 million – or 68 percent of its budget – on salaries for all of its employees.

Funding includes $34.39 million from state sources (52 percent), $17.38 million from local sources (26 percent), $6.95 million from federal sources (11 percent) and $6.95 million from other sources (11 percent). Other sources include insurance recoveries and transfers between funds.

The district’s operational millage will increase by 2.67 to 51.46 mills. It will offset that by decreasing the millage it levies to pay off debt.

To do so, it will not take a three-mill loan, as it does most years. It usually uses that money to buy new school buses.

The district will, however, issue a shortfall note for $370,584. Districts are authorized to issue those notes when less is collected in local taxes than anticipated.

The district will pay it back over three years, plus interest that will be determined by the bidding process.

The district will pay off the note using money it will receive from Toyota in lieu of taxes.

The district last issued a shortfall note in 2009 and paid it off in 2012.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com