Franklin — Voters in the Franklin Public School District on Aug. 21 approved a $50.2 million spending plan for the 2013-14 year.
That amount is $3.9 million, or 8.4 percent, more than this year's $46.3 million budget.
To support that spending, the tax levy will increase 4.5 percent, from $31.8 million to $33.2 million, and the tax rate will increase by 4.2 percent, from $11.70 per $1,000 of assessed value to $12.20. Most of the budget, 56.8 percent, is derived from property taxes, while another 35.8 percent comes in the form of state or federal aid dollars.
Lower levy increase
Superintendent Steve Patz said the levy increase is slightly less than projected; the district expected it would need to raise additional money in property taxes to help pay for the costs associated with a building referendum approved by voters in November.
At that time, residents approved two construction projects at Franklin High School totaling $33 million: a 34,000-square-foot academic addition as well as 72,000 square feet of renovations to classrooms and a 25,000-square-foot auditorium that seats 850.
"The levy's actually a little less than we anticipated," he said. "Outside of the referendum, the levy would have gone down."
This year's rate is not the lowest in the district's history, but since 1986, when the rate hovered around the $25 mark, the rate has declined by 49 percent.
Act 10 influence
Most of the district spending, 77 percent, pays for salaries and benefits, Patz said. But this year, with the enactment of the state's Act 10, which ties pay increases to the consumer price index, all employee groups received a 2.07 percent salary hike.
"Negotiations are so different now," Patz said. "We're all set for this year."
The district also reported that most employees took between a 7 percent and 11 percent decrease in net pay due to Act 10's provision related to retirement payments and increased contributions to health insurance premiums.
At the same time, the district decreased its health insurance rates by 10.2 percent, or about $775,000, this year by selecting a new carrier.
Not yet known
The $50.2 million budget for the coming year is based on several assumptions, which may change, Patz said. Those unknowns include:
· Enrollment. The district expects to gain 30 students this year, but an official count will not be made until the third Friday in September.
· State aid. The district is projecting a $1.8 million, or 14 percent, increase in state aid because its equalized value dropped by 4 percent.
· Retirements. Patz said 10 teachers are expected to retire at the end of this year, which is an average number for the district.
While district voters approved the 2013-14 spending plan, some dollar values could change as conditions do, but the School Board must approve a final budget by Nov. 1.
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