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North Union approves $12.8M budget

By Staff | Mar 28, 2014

The North Union Board of Education Monday night held a public hearing and approved a $12.8 million budget that includes an early payoff of general obligation debt.

According to superintendent Matt Berninghaus, levying for the remaining half of bonded debt for both the “old” Sentral and “old” Armstrong-Ringsted school districts would help reduce interest the district is paying. Berninghaus said the move would mean levying for half of the total bonded amount for Sentral ($140,000) next year. The bond is callable June 2015. For A-R, it would mean levying for the remaining half this year. That amount ($325,000) would be placed in an escrow account with that bond callable June 2016.

As a result, the Sentral tax rate would increase by 5 cents due to the following:

n Increase debt service levy for half the remaining bond. That would mean interest payment savings for Sentral taxpayers of $10,000.

n Voter-approved physical plant and equipment levy increase of .67.

n Re-organization incentives.

n Land valuations increasing.

The A-R tax rate would decrease due to:

n Re-organization incentives.

n Land valuations increasing.

n Slowly decreasing from the fiscal 2010 across-the-board cuts.

Berninghaus’ tax rate recommendations for the “old” Armstrong-Ringsted were:

n Levies – debt service – 8.14.

n Debt service – 2.43.

n Land tax rate (-.73) – 10.57.

n Surtax rate (+2%) – 12%.

Recommendations for the “old” Sentral are:

n Levies – debt service – 8.14.

n Debt service – 1.27.

n Land tax rate (+.05) – 9.41.

n Surtax rate (-2%) – 12%.

Citing historically declining enrollment since the 2006-07 school year for a loss of 120 students over the past seven year, and decreasing year-end balances, Berninghaus said as soon as general obligation debts are paid for each former district the tax rates will equalize. He said tax rates currently are not far from being the same. His recommendation would make a 1.16 difference. He said merging the North Union tax rates to a common rate as soon as possible would create less confusion regarding two tax rates, generate greater unification in the district and save North Union taxpayers in interest payments.

Paying off general obligation bonds as soon as possible would also save North Union taxpayers a combined $120,000 in interest payments.

“I think it’s what we had in mind two years ago when we started talking consolidation,” said board president Jim Boyer.

The budget assumes just over $3 million on taxes levied on property and $2,364,537 in state aid.

Instruction is the major cost at $6,620,790 with support services coming in at $3,744,639.

In other business, after a closed session, the board reconvened and voted to hire Art Pixler as elementary principal at $85,000 and Robert Zotz as high-school principal at $75,000.