Kendall approves $1 million cut in school taxes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2013 at 12:00 am

District also proposes $25 million capital project

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Kendall Junior-Senior High School is eyed for most of the $25 million in a capital project that goes before voters on May 21.

KENDALL – Districts residents would see their school taxes plunge and the district campus would get a vast overhaul as part of initiatives that will go before voters May 21.

The Board of Education has approved a 2013-14 budget that would slash taxes by $1 million, a drop from $5.6 million to $4.6 million. The average tax rate would fall from $21.51 to $17.45 per $1,000 of assessed property.

The district is shedding about $500,000 annually with a paid-off bond and another $115,000 annually with a bus loan payment. Kendall also will see several students with disabilities, who were educated at costly facilities outside the district, move into other communities. Those factors, plus a $553,000 increase in state aid, are allowing Kendall to drastically cut taxes.

“We wanted to give it back to the people,” Nadine Hanlon, the Board of Education president, said about the tax cut. “We know the circumstances people are facing with increased costs and high unemployment.”

Kendall plans to add an elementary teacher, and at least another teacher to help students meet and surpass more stringent state standards. The board also wants to increase the Building and Grounds staff while the district begins work on the capital project.

Julie Christensen, the district superintendent, said the reduced taxes and revamped schools will make the district even more attractive.

“Hopefully people will want to move here to see what a great place this is,” she said.

Kendall’s overall budget dropped more than $2 million from $16,390,153 in 2012-13 to a proposed $14,051,383. Hanlon said the district has made many staffing changes in recent years to increase efficiency. Kendall also has reserve funds to protect the district from financial swings in the future.

“We figured it would be good to cut the taxes, and we have a long-term plan to keep them stable,” Hanlon said.

Residents won’t see their taxes go up with the capital project, Christensen said. The state would pay 90 percent of the cost. Kendall already has raised its local share through a capital reserve fund.

The project includes new roofs for both school buildings, as well as energy efficient improvements, heating and ventilation work, and updated security measures. Both sites will also see improvements to parking lots and sidewalks. The classrooms in the junior-senior high school also will be redesigned and upgraded.

There will be a forum on the project 7 p.m. April 30 in the junior-senior high school commons.

The May 21 vote will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the elementary school.