North Dickinson board hears budget plans

FELCH TOWNSHIP — While the North Dickinson County School District budget calls for a slightly higher levy, most property owners should see little change in their tax bills, district officials said.

The district has paid off the debt voters approved in March 2016 for technology and new buses. In the years residents paid that .84 mills levy, or 84 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value, the district had voluntarily reduced its sinking fund levy by .97 mills, or 97 cents per $1,000.

With the debt paid, the district in fiscal year 2020 will reinstate the full sinking fund rate of 1.96 mills, plus 18 mills for operations, for a total tax rate of $19.96 per $1,000 of taxable property value. That’s a rise of 12 cents per $1,000 from the current rate of 19.84 mills, said Michael Roell, the district’s finance director and athletic director.

No one from the public spoke at Monday’s truth-in-taxation hearing on the budget.

The board will have a special meeting at 6 p.m. June 26 in the school library to finalize the new budget with as close to the end of year amounts as possible.

Roell said he anticipates the district in fiscal year 2020 will have an estimated $2,614,949 in revenue and $2,603,107 in expenditures, for a surplus of $11,842. That would raise the district’s fund balance to $293,811, he said.

“We’re coming in a little better shape than I originally thought,” Roell said, though he cautioned these figures are preliminary, given the current fiscal year doesn’t end until June 30.

In other business, the board:

— Approved a 2% wage increase for support staff and administration, which will cost the district $7,200 more in salary and $2,376 in benefits for a total of $9,576.

— Set a 2019-20 school calendar that starts classes on Monday, Aug. 26, and finishes the year June 3, 2020, barring having to make up excessive snow days.

— Learned that Kathleen Campain had changed her mind and decided to remain as the district’s speech therapist.

— Noted the outstanding season posted by the North Dickinson girls track team, winning seven meets — including regional and conference titles — and ending as runner-up in the Upper Peninsula finals for the second straight year.

–Continued the district’s membership in the Michigan High School Athletic Association, or MHSAA.

— Authorized Roell to join an Upper Peninsula Area Purchasing Agreement though the Michigan Education Special Services Association, or MESSA, that Roell said will allow staff more insurance options.

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