June 13, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Switched vote insures Lansing school district patrons won’t see tax increase

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The USD 469 Board of Education in Lansing has approved a budget for the 2023-2024 school year that will not increase taxes on district property owners. The revenue neutral budget was approved on a 4-3 vote, following a vote change from one of its members.

A revenue neutral budget reduces the mill, or tax, levy applied to property tax valuations to counteract increases in those valuations in order to keep spending at the same level as last year. The district was advised earlier this year by the Leavenworth County Clerk’s office what the revenue neutral rate (RNR) would be. In July, the board initially voted 4-3 to send a notice back to the county advising it the district would be exceeding RNR. But when the final vote was taken in August, a switched vote secured a 4-3 majority not to exceed RNR, saving taxpayers a considerable amount of money.

That switched vote belong to Mary Wood, who explained her decision:

“In July I did vote to exceed revenue neutral to gather more information, and the correct numbers for transparency reasons. Until we had the correct dollar amounts and numbers, I could not vote in good faith, one way or the other.  Basically, every year the school taxes for Lansing residents and businesses have increased between 4-5%.  I came on board January 2021, and we were all told of the dire situation the Lansing School District was facing, but it was difficult to get the correct numbers. We voted at that time to exceed and raised school taxes at 12%. This was more than double the usual increase.
“We wanted to do better this year, and all worked hard to make sure it would be absolutely necessary to raise taxes again. Amy Cawvey, Pete Robinson, Carla Wiegers, and myself voted to remain revenue neutral knowing the district would maintain its current state of excellence for our students, provide increases in raises for all teachers, staff, administrators, and the up-keep of our buildings this coming year.
“The last three years have economically been tough with inflation rising. Another large increase in school district property taxes did not seem absolutely necessary and to give all our taxpayers a break this year was a goal we four deemed essential.”
The clerk’s notification to the board, followed by the board’s notice to the clerk, and the public meeting are all facets of the Truth in Taxation law, passed and signed into law two years ago in bipartisan fashion.

Board Vice-President Cawvey, says the savings are significant to district patrons:

“We saved school taxpayers $781, 863”

Schools statewide intending to exceed revenue neutral this year have until September 20th to hold their public meetings to discuss their budgets.

 

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