Albion BOE approves budget with no tax increase

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 April 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The Board of Education tonight approved a $33,551,051 budget for 2014-15 that will not raise property taxes.

The tax levy will remain at $8,439,939, and the tax rate is projected to fall 4 cents from $16.82 to $16.78 per $1,000 of assessed property.

Albion school officials were considering a 1.6 percent tax increase, but they were able to close the gap and not raise taxes.

“We don’t take that lightly,” Margy Brown, the BOE president, said about a tax hike. “Even at 1.6 percent for some people that is challenging.”

Albion raised taxes by 1.5 percent in 2013-14. That was the first increase in seven years.

Albion is down 704 students from 11 years ago and has eliminated 82 positions over that time to reflect the enrollment drop, said Shawn Liddle, the district’s assistant superintendent for business. Those staff reductions have helped the district keep taxes mostly in check for the past decade.

“We’ve been fiscally responsible and conservative,” Brown said. “We’re forward-thinking and we watch the numbers closely.”

The proposed budget will go before voters on May 20, with the polls open from noon to 8 p.m. in conference room A at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School.

The budget maintains current programs. It increases overall spending by 0.6 percent or $202,002. The district will see cost-savings with eight retirements and the turnover of another veteran staff member. They are all planned to be replaced by newer staff at lower salaries.

The budget includes about $130,000 more for computer hardware, software and bandwidth upgrades in anticipation to a transition to on-line testing.

The district will have a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on May 13 in the High School LGI.