1.5% tax hike eyed for Albion schools

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2013 at 12:00 am

District also plans to cut 5 positions

ALBION – The school district is planning to raise taxes by 1.5 percent in a proposed $33.3 million budget that also would cut five jobs.

The Board of Education on Monday approved the spending plan that will go before district voters on May 21. Voting is from noon to 8 p.m. at the elementary school’s conference room A.

Albion hasn’t raised taxes since the 2006-07 budget. The proposed tax levy, at $8,446,946, is up $124,484. It remains down compared to the $9,094,194 levy in 2006-07.

The district is budgeting for a $226,080 increase in state aid.  The board intends to continue “right-sizing” the staff, making cuts as the student enrollment drops. The student enrollment has shrunk from 2,750 in 2000 to a projected 1,971 next year. Albion forecasts 1,864 students in five years.

The district, with the five cuts planned for next school year, will have eliminated 21.5 jobs since the 2011-12 school year. Three of the cuts next school year will come from attrition with two layoffs planned.

The budget preserves all school programs, without exceeding a property tax cap of about 2 percent. The state Legislature established that cap on local governments about two years ago.

“We recognize the constant obligationto balance the programmatic needs of our students with the ability of our taxpayers to pay for the programs that we offer,” said Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent.

The budget increases overall spending by 0.6 percent or $202,799 to $33,349,049.

When residents vote May 21, they will also be asked to approve a school bus reserve proposition that would create a reserve for buses not to exceed $4,821,000. The district would like to take $440,000 from the reserve to go towards new buses. The state pays 94 percent of the bus costs.

Residents will also vote on whether $654,000 can be collected to support operations at Hoag Library.

There also will be a Board of Education election. Residents have until April 22 to submit petitions to the district office to run for the volunteer position.