By Gail Peckler-Dziki

Seven Salem Grade school district residents, five of whom were school board members, approved the 2017-2018 levy of $6,342,635 at the Oct. 2 annual meeting.

The project mill rate for 2017-18 is $7.72 per $1,000 of assessed property value, one cent less than last year, according to district business manager Susan Jarvis.

The mill rate could change, according to Jarvis and perhaps even go down, since the budget she presented at the Oct. 2 district annual meeting did not take state aid increases into account.

“We had to prepare the budget prior to the state numbers coming in,” said Jarvis.

Salem expects to receive $220,000 more in state funding than originally expected, which will decrease the amount the district expects to use from the fund balance, to keep the new budget balanced.

Even with the passage of the operational referendum, the district had expected to dip into the fund balance by $450,000 but new state numbers could decrease that amount to $307,000.

The fund balance is a fund that all governmental bodies maintain. This fund allows governments to maintain a cash flow and pay bills while waiting for tax payments to come in.

Also, governmental bodies that have a healthy fund balance also receive lower interest rates when borrowing is required.

In 2015-2016, Salem’s fund balance was $2.7 million. That dropped to $2.4 million the next year. The estimated fund balance for 2017-2018 is $1.9 million.

The gross total expected expenditures for 2017-2018 are $17,561,553, more than $220,000 last year. The unaudited expenditures for 2016-2017 were $17,880,362.

The 2017-2018 approved levy of $6,342,635 is 4.3 percent higher than the 2016-2017 levy of $6,080,983.

According to a chart provided by Jarvis, Salem’s mill rate is in the middle of the pack of 16 local to somewhat more distant K-8 school districts. Bristol is lowest, with a mill rate of $5.83 while Trevor-Wilmot is highest at $9.58. The local average for the statewide 46 K-8 districts is $6.03.

The mill rate for Salem Grade will have remained level for five years. District administrator Dave Milz reported that the student population as well as the number of students in and out in open enrollment numbers would remain the same next year.

Some increases in spending were caused by hiring four teachers and social worker and a $50,000 increase in retirement spending over last year.

Despite the financial challenges, the district was able to purchase new lunchroom tables and stage curtains.


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