As part of its operating budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the school district has lowered the amount it plans to raise by $500,000 from the allowable opt-out amount passed by voters in 2020.
“The school district is asking the school board for a half-million-dollar tax reduction from the opt-out,” YSD Superintendent Wayne Kindle told attendees. “We have increased enrollment, and I think we have done a really good job fiscally with our budget. We have really watched how we spend and what we spend our money on, and so, we are able to make that recommendation tonight.”
Monday’s meeting saw the lowering of the opt-out amount from the allowable $1.85 million to $1.35 million, along with the approval of the YSD 2022-2023 budget.
“The opt-out was approved for up to that amount for four years but it doesn’t mean a district has to take that much — you could if you needed to,” Kindle said. “One of the things that I promised our community was that if there’s ever any time during this four-year period that we can reduce that opt-out amount, we would do so. Tonight, we have.”
YSD drew the full opt-out amount in 2020 and in 2021, but enrollments have increased enough this year that the full opt-out amount is not necessary, Kindle said.
When there is growth in enrollments, the funding formula for school districts works well, YSD Business Manager Jason Bietz told the Press & Dakotan.
“All indications are, we’re going to have even more enrollment than we projected when we built this budget,” he said. “Back in 2020, we based that original budget proposal and opt-out proposal and all of our estimates on an enrollment of 2,740 students in our district”
Last year’s official number of students enrolled was 2,821 and this year could reach anywhere from 2,825-2,840, he said, adding that the certified enrollment numbers will not be available until the last Friday of September.
Based on recommendations from administrators, the school board approved the following budget amounts for the current fiscal year of July 1-June 30 next year: General Fund — $26,040,686; Capital Outlay Fund — $5,312,155; Special Education Fund — $5,522,390; Impact Aid Fund — $50,000; Food Service Fund — $2,352,415; Public Enterprise (concessions) Fund — $103,500.
Actual tax levy rates for the opt-out amount haven’t been determined, but Bietz presented some projections to board members regarding the impact of the $500,000 opt-out reduction on levy rates.
“In total, for school portion of levies, the average agricultural property should see a reduction of nearly 26 cents, owner occupied should see a reduction of nearly 52 cents and commercial will see a reduction of over $1 per $1,000,” he said. “We thought, ‘That’s pretty darn important to share with people,’ meaning, it not only affects our revenue, which is very important to us, but also the burden on the taxpayers.”
With current high prices, this is the perfect time to reduce taxpayers’ economic burdens, Kindle said.
“We have high grocery prices, we have high gas prices, and all those other little things that seem to add up for households and businesses,” he said. “It’s really great news tonight to be able to share with the public and to keep the promise that we gave to them when we were out talking about the opt-out and asking for their support.”