Oxford Schools consider tax hike

A bare quorum of school board members, and only two people not representing the schools or media, turned out for the public hearing on Oxford School District’s proposed 2014-2015 budget Monday evening.
Board members will vote June 23 on the budget to fund expenditures projected at $35,399,763.30 for the budget year, which starts July 1. The three proposals contain ad valorem tax rate increases from two percent to four percent, or from one to two mills on assessed value.

“Some of these (expenses) are district mandates,” said Superintendent Brian Harvey, “because our standards here are higher than what we’re funded at.”

Some projected increases, such as $155,000 extra for utilities, are due to the opening of an additional campus. (The new Oxford High School opened in January, and the former high school campus, which was immediately closed for renovation, is scheduled to reopen in August as a 7th-and 8th-grade campus.)

The budget also includes five additional teachers, two additional assistant principals, and six other new positions.

“We have (new positions) at OHS that are necessary for the student population growth that we will have next year, which was the purpose of building the new high school in the first place,” Harvey said.

Under each of the three tax increase proposals, ad valorem taxes would furnish about 51.5 to 52 percent of the budget, and taxes on a $250,000 home would rise about $25 with the two-percent increase, or $50 with the four-percent hike.

Valuations for all the taxable property in the Oxford School District are not yet available for the 2014-15 year, but valuations have increased from $85,857,215 in 1996-97 to $394,732,384 in the budget year now nearing its end – a nearly five-fold increase in the tax base.

Oxford School District voters approved a $30 million bond issue in 2010 for capital improvements that added 6.7 mills to the rate.

Before this year’s proposed increase, the millage rates for Oxford School District – not including city or county taxes – is 46.01 mills.


Twitter: @oxfordcitizenec

About Errol Castens

I'm a news reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal and the Oxford Citizen. Focusing on Oxford and Lafayette County, I've been a part of the L-O-U community since 1991.