Voters in the New Franklin R-1 School District approved a $1 increase to the district’s general operating property tax levy on Tuesday.
Voters in the district, which covers much of southern Howard County and the Rocheport area of western Boone County, approved the increase with a 288-184 vote. In Boone County, the vote was 46-18, and it was 242-166 in Howard County.
New Franklin Superintendent Brian Cordel said he was pleased to see 61 percent of voters support the measure, which he says is needed to balance the district’s underfunded budget. The district will likely run a deficit again this year before the counties start collecting the additional tax next year. The district’s cash reserve will get it through the year, and once people start paying the additional tax, they shouldn’t have to go into the reserves anymore, he said.
The increase will raise the district’s levy from $3.42 to $4.42 when it takes effect next year, meaning someone with property assessed at $100,000 will pay an additional $190 a year in property tax. That will generate about $300,000 in annual revenue for the district on top of the $930,282 its levy currently generates. It’s the first increase to the district’s property tax levy since 1994.
The district will use the money to balance its budget, which has been in a deficit for each of the past three years, Cordel told the Daily News before the election. The district has been forced to spend cash reserves and could not give a cost of living raise this year, he said.
The source of the district’s budget woes are underfunded mandates from the state government, Cordel said. The district spent $571,575 more on mandatory programs like busing and special education than the state reimbursed it for last year.