Oxford School Board set to approve final budget
By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford School Board reviewed the proposed final budget one last time at the June 9 work session, setting the stage for the board to vote on a final budget at the June 16 meeting.
Business administrator Brian Cooney explained at the work session that the projections for the 2015-2016 spending plan remained the same since the board approved the proposed final budget over a month ago.
The proposed budget for 2015-2016 calls for $63.3 million in expenditures, which is about $600,000 less than when the preliminary budget was approved four months ago. Projected spending on several items—technology, tuition costs for the Technical College High School, transportation costs for students who attend the Intermediate Unit classes—declined. Medical insurance costs and debt-service payments have also decreased.
Initially, district officials projected the tax increase to be around 2.6 percent, close to Oxford’s adjusted Act 1 Index limit for the next fiscal year, as they attempted to close a budget deficit of more than $3 million. But now, following the aforementioned decreases, the anticipated tax increase is down to one percent. Even with the tax increase, the district will still be dipping into its fund balance for approximately $4.3 million to balance the budget.
With the one-percent tax increase, the millage rate would increase by .3023 mills, from 30.2324 mills to 30.5347 mills. That equates to a $39 increase for the homeowner of a property with the average residential assessment of $130,318.
In the last four years the district has had two years—2011-2012 and 2013-2014—where there was no tax increase. In 2012-2013, the tax increase was 1.7 percent. There was a .61 percent increase for the 2014-2015 school year.
The board also reviewed the Capital Projects Fund Budget at the June 9 meeting. Cooney said that the district has budgeted approximately $867,800 for planned project improvements to facilities in the near future. The district plans to spend $140,000 to overhaul the lighting at Elk Ridge and another $125,000 for lighting at Jordan Bank. The district will see significant savings in the coming years because of the more energy-efficient lighting that is being installed.
Additionally, the district is planning to spend about $220,000 for safety and security measures, including $100,000 for the high school rotunda and $100,000 for the main entrance to Elk Ridge. A new fire alarm system for Jordan Bank School will cost $20,000.
The school board is combining its two meetings in July, so the only meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. in the administration building.