Clay County School board tax hike pitch will be heard on Monday

Published in print July 1, 2015

CELINA-Under direction of the Clay County School Board, schools director Jerry Strong and his staff will pitch a 20-cent property tax increase to members of the Clay County budget committee here next Monday night at a budget meeting held after the July 6 regular commission meeting at the Clay County Government Complex.
Board members voted last month to propose the smaller increase after a $45 wheel tax hike to fund an additional $300,000 the school system requested was rejected in a May county budget meeting.
The board said the money was needed to counteract continued unfunded state mandates combined with the new federally mandated healthcare costs associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“The board has requested me to ask the county commission for a 20-cent property tax increase,” Strong told the HORIZON after the June meeting, “but they gave me no direction as to how we plan to make up the other 10 cents.
“The only two options I see that we have is to further deplete our fund balance or make more cuts to staff or essential programs and anymore cuts we make will adversely affect education.”
The 20-cent proposal amounts to $200,000 in additional funding being requested by the school board. The current Clay County property tax rate is $3.10 and is figured on every $100 of assessed property value, with the school budget being currently funded with $1.13 of the total property tax rate.
Before the board voted to ask for the 20-cent increase, “a 23-cent increase or $230,000” was brought to a vote by a motion from board member Nathan Sherrell, according to recently released June 11 meeting minutes.
Minutes showed that motion—which was seconded by Chris McLerran—failed with Sherrell, McLerran, Vonda Weir, Todd Lynn, and David West voting aye, while Anthony Smith, Todd Upton, Benji Bailey, Christina Crawford, and Veda Hix voted no.
Bailey then made the motion “to ask the County Commission for a 20-cent increase or $200,000,” minutes said. Minutes showed that motion was seconded by Lynn before it passed 8-2. Minutes showed Bailey, Lynn, Weir, Crawford, Upton, McLerran, Sherrell, and West voted aye, while Hix and Smith voted no.
In other action at their June meeting, minutes said the school board voted to approve:
• a bid for milk from Prairie Farms Dairy;
• a bid for gasoline, diesel, motor oil, and antifreeze from Freeman Apple Oil Company;
• a bid from Tri-County Propane for propane fuel;
• a bid from Industrial Dust Control for dust mops and mats;
• a bid from Turner Roofing Company to re-roof the Celina K-8 School;
• a transfer of funds within a major classification to the General Purpose School Budget and the School Nutrition Program Budget to meet obligations by June 30;
• a contract agreement with Head Start for preschool services for the upcoming school year;
• a contract with Benita Hudson for O.T. and P.T. services for the upcoming school year;
• a proposal from Tamara L. Beckman for the Annual School Activity Fund audit;
• the elementary and high school student handbooks on the first reading with the addition that high school students be allowed to check cell phones between classes (another vote needed for approval);
• three CCHS girls basketball and a CCHS FFA camp trip request;
• the differentiated pay plan for the upcoming school year;
• a motion to look into the possibility of leasing the Active Network building in order to get more jobs into the community; and
• a motion to request bids for heat pumps for the gym at Celina K-8.
See a future HORIZON for more on this ongoing story.