BOE Approves Budget for Upcoming Year
Proposed budget includes tax relief and funding for educational initiatives
The budget for the Howell Public Schools was introduced and approved on Monday in what has been an unusual cycle for the board.
Unlike previous years, this time around the approved budget will not be put to a public vote but at Wednesday's meeting there seemed agreement that the finished product was agreeable to just about everybody involved.
The total proposed budget comes in at $112,036,638. The total is almost $1.3 million more than last year's but thanks to an increase in state aid should mean a decrease in taxes for most Howell residents.
In a presentation by Board Secretary Ron Sanasac said the levy for the upcoming school year is $70,279,374. With a decrease in ratables in the township that number also figures into the tax impact for residents of the township. Even with a tax rate increase of $.25 from last year Sanasac's presentation said with the average home value dropping from $350 thousand to $275 thousand that should mean savings for homeowners.
Last year township residents paid an average of $3,628 while that number will now drop to $3,539. The $89 drop is based on a value of $1.287 per $100 of assessed value.
At an earlier meeting there were questions raised about whether the money allocated by the state last year should be used for tax relief or programs like technology and reducing class sizes. Once the additional funding came through Superintendent Enid Golden said they were able to do both to help not only the residents, but also the students.
"The extra money was allocated to student achievement, technology and the class sizes which is really what my priorities were for the budget," she said.
Golden said with no public vote on the budget it made the conclusion of the process "different" than it had been in previous years. "In the past when we've had a budget hearing there has been more interest because the voters have to vote on the budget," she said. "I think people are probably very happy with the flat minus one million dollars decrease in the tax levy."
She said that the process for putting together the budget did not change despite the changes in adoption. "What's not happening is we would offer to go out to all the schools and we would have relatively very low attendance at those meetings," she said. "We're just not doing it this year."
Board President Tim O'Brien said he was "very proud of the budget and proud of the work of the board," for the finished product. "It's a good balance."
O'Brien had been one of the members of the board who questioned taking away the public vote on the budget. "It was a deep concern but at the same point it was also an awareness of the additional responsibilities that the board takes on," he said. "Now we've demonstrated that we lived up to that."
With the budget process now at its conclusion the board can now turn its focus back to the district's business. The next meeting is scheduled for April 18 with just three meetings after that until the end of the school year.
The Howell Public Schools will be closed from April 2 until April 10 for spring vacation.