On Monday, June 20, the Milford School District Board of Education passed a balanced budget for 2016-17. Before the board voted, Sara Croce, Chief Finance Officer, explained the various ways property tax are used in the district.
“We are putting the explanation up on our website so the public can view where their property taxes go,” Ms. Croce explained. “All tax rates are set in accordance to Delaware code and are based on assessed value of the property. We felt it may be beneficial for property owners to understand how we use the taxes collected to fund education in Milford.”
The tax code proposal explains the differences between current operating expenses, tuition, debt service and other expenses necessary to operate Milford schools. After an operating referendum passed in October 2015, the rates increased for 2016-17. However, Ms. Croce said that debt service from previous bonds has gone down as the district has paid down the debt over the years.
“The referendum has helped us out in many ways,” Ms. Croce said. “Right off the bat, $1.6 million went to cover our current budget deficit for current programming. The remaining funds went to bring back Middle School Track, add a Middle School Volleyball program, add back several limited contracts for coaching positions, bring back Odyssey of the Mind at the elementary and secondary school level and provide additional funds to our buildings for student supplies and materials by consolidating some expenses at the district level.” Ms. Croce said the district was also able to provide staff with a two percent local salary increase for 2017 as promised on the referendum ballot.
Other benefits district students may see as a result of the passed referendum include additional technology as well as uniform replacements and equipment reconditioning, things that the district had to cut from the budget in an effort to manage a significant budget shortfall under the previous tax rates. Ms. Croce said that the district continues to review current spending and make sure the district is planning not only for current school years, but for future years as well.
“We were able to reduce budgets in some areas in order to accommodate increases in others,” Ms. Croce said. “This will allow us to put approximately $800,000 into our reserve to replenish funds expended by years of deficit spending.”
The budget, which totaled more than $54.8 million, showed decreases in expenses for the board, legal expenses, Title III spending, debt service, as well as major and minor capital improvements. Some grant funding showed an anticipated reduction in costs as well. Overall, the budget increased by six percent over the 2015-16 budget.
The board approved the balanced budget unanimously. The budget and tax explanation can be viewed on the Milford School District Website at www.milfordschooldistrict.org, under the Board, Financial Reports tab.
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