Budget Approved At Lexington Board of Education Meeting

The Lexington Board of Education approved a $50 million budget for the 2016-2017 school year at its meeting Monday night.
The general fund portion of the budget is set at $43 million, which is $10 million more than what the district estimates it spent during the 2015-2016 year.  Exact figures won't be finalized until an audit is completed in November.
Lexington Public School's CFO Erin Heineman said the budget authorizes what can be spent, but is not necessarily what will be spent.  She said LPS commonly budgets with a cushion.
"We build a contingency into the budget fully knowing that's not what we're going to spend," she said.  
In case of an emergency, if something unexpected comes up, money is available without a need to revise the budget, she said. 
"If you budget more and don't spend it, you get to carry it over," said Heineman of another common strategy for the district.
"It's a hedge against unknowns in the future," said Superintendent John Hakonson.
The tax asking in support of the budget is $10,821,592, with $10,730,805 for the district's general fund and $90,787 for the special building fund.  Last year's tax asking was $10,124,189 for the general fund and $85,655 for the special building fund.
 
Lexington Public Schools will levy $1.04 per $100 valuation for the general fund and 1 cent for the special building fund, for a total levy $1.05. Heineman said $1.05 is the maximum levy, as set by state statute, and is also what LPS levied last year.
 
Of the levy's impact on taxes, Heineman said the owner of a $100,000 home, would pay $1,050 in school taxes and a landowner with land valued at $1,000,000 would pay $10,500 in school taxes.
 
Although the levy is the same as last year, specific tax bills may reflect an increase due to a valuation increase, said Heineman, noting Dawson County property valuations increased almost six percent.  She said a home valued at $100,000 a year ago, might be valued at $105,990 this year and school related taxes would go from $1,050 to $1,113, or $63 more. 
 
In a breakdown of the district's revenue sources, Heineman said 32 percent is from local taxes, for $11,468,742.  The bulk of funding, 67 percent, is from outside sources with $21,179,881, or 60 percent, from the state and $2,480,507, or 7 percent, from the federal programs.
 
In discussing the budget, it was noted that the district has no bond debt and this is the second year they are not levying any taxes for bonds.  Also, all construction projects are paid off.
 
In other matters, the board unanimously approved a plan for a courtyard, landscaping and parking lot at Lexington High School to complete the recent addition.  Estimated costs are $100,000.  
 
Because LPS is $153,932 below the revised  guaranteed maximum price of $4,032,713 for the high school project there is money available to complete the desired improvements, said Hakonson.
 
He said although the costs won't exceed the GMP, board approval was desired since the plans were additions to what was previously approved.
 
He said the estimated cost for adding 30 stalls in the parking lot is $65,000 and it is hoped that the concrete can be poured this fall.  Landscaping will be phased in later. 
 
As owner of the Majestic Theatre, the board approved two purchases for the theater noting the Lexington Community Foundation has fundraising and grant monies available to pay for the items; there is no cost to the district.
 
The board approved a quote of $21,432 from Tri City Sign Company of Grand Island for a digital sign to be placed on the theater.  They also approved spending up to $60,000  for a canopy, concrete paving and storm sewer improvements through Paulsen, Inc. of Cozad.  Heineman said the City of Lexington intends to assist in the work, either through labor or costs.

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