By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
No one showed for a public hearing at Williamsburg Independent Schools Wednesday, which was set to hear comments about the 4 percent increase in the real and personal property tax rate.
With no public comment, during the WIS Board of Education’s regular monthly meeting, present board members unanimously approved setting the rate at 43.3 cents per $100 valuation.
That rate applies to both personal and real property taxes.
According to Finance Officer David Higginbotham, last year’s rate was 41.6 cents per $100 valuation for real property, and 41.9 cents per $100 valuation for personal property.
He added that it had been a few years since the decision was made to go for the maximum 4 percent increase — only if a school system decides to go with the maximum tax rate is a public hearing required.
Board member Allan Steely motioned to approve the rate, with a second from Board chair Dr. John Jeffries. Board member Kim Williams was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting.
In other board business:
— A working budget for the school system for 2013-2014 was unanimously approved during the meeting Wednesday.
According to Higginbotham, there are three steps a school system takes with the annual budget process — the draft version due by the end of February, the tentative version due by the end of May, and the final working budget due on Monday. He said once the board approved the budget, it would have to be submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education for the final OK.
“This is a snapshot (of the) best information we have to work with,” Higginbotham said.
The $6.7 million budget includes the required 2 percent contingency fund, he said, adding these budget dollars are about $200,000 less than the last school year.
“We had a loss of some grant monies,” Higginbotham said. “We tried to hold everything on the same level (before the grant losses), but it was no longer physically possible.”
Also hurting the school system is the statewide cuts involving SEEK funds.
According to the KDE website, the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding program is a formula-driven allocation of state-provided funds to local school districts. The formula includes funding for transportation costs and special needs students as reported by districts.
Steely motioned to approve the working budget, with a second from Board member Kim White.
Higginbotham said the motor vehicle tax rate remains unchanged at 54.4 cents per $100 valuation.
— The school’s annual Fall Festival has been scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5. Superintendent Denny Byrd said the festival is one of the biggest fundraisers the school has each year — and monies raised will go toward completion of the five-stage playground improvement project.
Byrd told board members that stage 1 has already been completed — all with fundraising monies. He said the approximate cost for the project is $40,000-$50,000 — and that the first stage cost a little more than $7,000.
The next stage looks to cost just over $8,000.
“We’re slowly adding equipment for the playground,” Byrd said.
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
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