The Capital School District Board of Education voted Thursday morning to pull $91,200 from the district’s reserve fund to match unexpected additional funding provided by the General Assembly.
The Capital School District Board of Education voted Thursday morning to pull $91,200 from the district’s reserve fund to match unexpected additional funding provided by the General Assembly. The funding is destined for the district’s “minor cap” fund, programmed for repair and upkeep of district facilities. The board had considered adjusting the tax rate paid by district property owners, but decided instead to take money from the district’s $14 million reserve. The vote was taken at a special board meeting, which also saw the swearing in of newly-elected board member Sean Christiansen. Christiansen replaces Dr. Ray Paylor, who retired from the board at the end of June. Christiansen cast his first vote in favor of the proposal, which was placed forward by board member Matthew J. Lindell. Board President Kay Dietz-Sass also voted in favor, with board Vice President Phillip Martino Jr. casting the only negative vote. Board member Brian E. Lewis was not in attendance. Lower rate for FY 2014 The result of the morning’s board action is that property owners will be charged 1.85 cents per $100 of their property’s assessed value, retroactive to July 1, the start of Fiscal Year 2014. This figure is unchanged from that approved by the board on June 19. Had the board approved a change to accommodate the extra minor cap allocation, the rate would have been 1.857 cents per $100 of assessed value. The FY 2014 1.85-cent rate is down from the 1.909-cent rate levied in FY 2013. “When we approved the tax rate in June, we were going off the recommended state budget,” said district Business Manager Sean Sokolowski. But when the General Assembly unexpectedly increased the minor cap allocation, the district had to find a way to match that increase. State law requires school districts to provide 40 percent of the funding used for minor cap expenses; the remaining 60 percent is provided by state lawmakers. The General Assembly already had allocated just under $540,000 for minor cap funding in FY 2014, but added an additional $228,000 at the end of the legislative session June 30. Because the school board already had approved its tax rate for the lower amount, it was called back into session with a mandate to match the extra funding. Sokolowski and district Superintendent Dr. Michael D. Thomas had cautioned against dipping into the reserve at this time, saying it could set an unwanted precedent, particularly if the district finds itself with any major unexpected expenses in the future. Thomas, however, accepted the panel’s decision. “That’s the board’s jurisdiction,” he said. “That’s the board’s decision to vote on that matter.” Leaving the meeting, Christiansen said he was comfortable with his first decision as a board member. “There’s no sense in raising taxes when we have money in reserve,” he said. The school board was obliged to hold the special Thursday morning session so the property tax rate data could be submitted to Kent County Levy Court by the close of business that day.