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School board puts figures to voted leeway

Article Date: 
18 January, 2013 (All day)

Morgan County School District administrators are putting figures to the amount of money they will seek for a voted leeway on the June 2013 ballot.
Business Administrator D’Lynn Poll said the Morgan County School District needs between $350,000 and $550,000 to just balance the budget.
If the county’s taxable value remains the same and debt service bonds are not refinanced, it could cost the owner of a $200,000 home $52 dollars a year to raise $350,000 in revenues for the district.  That is just to maintain the teachers on staff now after the district has made $500,000 in cuts over the past year.   
Superintendent Ken Adams encouraged board members to refinance the district’s debt service to a lower interest rate.
“Even if you do refinance the bonds, it will not be able to get us through without a leeway,” Poll said.  “if you don’t get the voted leeway, you will not be able to generate enough money and you will have to make cuts.”
If debt services are refinanced and taxable values remain constant, the amount on a $200,000 home could lower to a $28 yearly increase. However, Poll warns that the county’s taxable values may lower and create a higher tax burden.
Last year, the taxable value of the county dipped $16 million dollars, Poll said.  Commercial properties in the county have not be assessed “since the economy changed” and are up for reassessment this year, she said.
“We do think the taxable value will go down,” she said.
However, the dip could be counterbalanced with some new growth in the county.
“We don’t know if the new growth will cover us,” she said.
Boardmembers agreed to focus on the voted leeway now and pursue a much-needed bond election later despite significant needs.
Boardmember Ken Durrant worries about Morgan’s chances to pass a future bond election on the heels of a voted leeway and during a “scary” economy. 
Durrant said the state fire marshall has reason to shut down the south wing of the high school for lack of fire suppression sprinklers. 
“We have buildings that are wearing out,” Durrant said.  “We are living on borrowed time.”