Tax increase not likely for Lee County School District

TUPELO – Lee County Schools business manager Randy Thweatt says he’s hopeful that the district will not require a tax increase for its recently adopted budget.
The Lee County School District was considering requesting a 3-mill increase to help offset the loss of nearly $4 million of state funding. However, the expected passage of a federal Medicaid assistance-education jobs bill nullifies much of that need.
That bill passed its biggest hurdle when it was approved by the Senate on Thursday. It is expected to be passed by the House next week.
It could give Mississippi K-12 school districts as much as $180 million. Thweatt said he did not yet know exactly how much the Lee County School District would receive.
At Tuesday’s Lee County School Board meeting, Thweatt will ask the board to approve a proposal that requests 4 percent more funding from the county this year than the district received last year.
However, because of new tax growth, Thweatt hopes the district will be able to get that money without the need for any tax increase.
He will not know for sure until he gets the final figures on assessed value from the county.
Thweatt will hold a public hearing explaining the district’s proposal before the board meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Lee County School District’s Central Office.
Lee County’s $59.2 million budget was approved by the school board on July 20. It would spend nearly $36.7 on student instruction (61.9 percent) and $7.7 million on operation and maintenance (13 percent).
Of that money, about $32 million would be spent on salaries (54.1 percent), nearly $10 million on benefits (16.8 percent), $5.6 million on property services (9.51 percent) and $4.5 million on supplies (7.7 percent).
The budget is expected to be funded by $32.8 million of state funds (58 percent), $17 million in local funds (30.1 percent) and $6.1 million in federal money (10.8 percent).
The Tupelo Public School District had previously announced that it will not request a tax increase.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal