August 16, 2013 10:33:01 AM
The Starkville School District Board of Trustees approved a 3-mill levy Tuesday to cover up to $9.95 million in spending power in which at least $2 million worth of no-interest loans will be used for various maintenance and repair projects.
The long-term impact of the tax increase will be negligible, SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway said, as other millage will roll off in the coming years. In two years, the school district's tax requirement will drop about 4.5 mills as SSD retires other debts.
The mill rate is based on "mills"; as each mill is one-thousandth of a currency unit, one mill is equivalent to one-tenth of a cent or $0.001. Property tax in dollar terms is calculated by multiplying the assessed property value and the mill rate and dividing by 1,000. As a property may be subject to tax by a number of different authorities, mill rates are set by each taxing authority so as to meet the revenue projections in their budgets.
School board members first broached the bond in June, passing an intent notice in a regularly scheduled meeting. The tax increase could have been put to a vote if 20 percent of qualified electors living within SSD's boundaries signed a petition, but the July 9 deadline passed with no significant opposition.
SSD issued a 62.96-mill levy for overall operations and debt service for Fiscal Year 2013, a September 2013 Starkville Board of Aldermen motion states. Out of that total, 49.19 mills went toward the system's district maintenance fund.
During this year's legislative session, Holloway voiced concerns about finding future countywide support for maintenance and construction bonds for a consolidated school system. Attending to current SSD needs puts the city school system in a better position before it and Oktibbeha County School District merge in 2015.
The bond money provides SSD with enough flexibility to complete numerous infrastructure projects; however, the district does not have to spend the full $9.95 million.
The school board is expected to address major roof issues with the bond. Stakeholders previously developed a prioritized list of maintenance needs during spring strategic planning sessions. Three major roofing projects at Armstrong Middle School's gym, Overstreet School and the Millsaps Career and Technical Center were estimated then to cost a combined $1.5 million.
Climate control projects are also expected to be addressed with the incoming monies. A Henderson Middle School air-conditioning project identified in the district's prioritized maintenance list is expected to cost $200,000, while 92 other HVAC units are expected to run $184,000 combined.
"There are a lot of things in our district that we need to take care of, and it's our top priority to deal with those things now," School Board President Eddie Myles said. "Consolidation is going to happen no matter what. If we can take care of these issues now, it'll put us in a better position for the future."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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