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Every year, August is the month that both the City and School District grapple with their budgets for the upcoming year.  After raising the mill rate last year to help pay for the new Public Safety building, the City Commission has decided to forgo some projects and hold the mill levy rate at its current level.

For the city, they are actually reducing spending by approximately $235,000.  The cuts are coming in a tightening of several budget areas but not at the cost of eliminating staff.  The original plan was to have a 3% raise pool for the staff.  That was reduced to a 2.5% pool for each department.  Proposals were on the table to, among other things; add batting cages at the Parks and Rec Department.  Public Works was looking to replace some equipment that is nearing their end of life and both the Police and Fire Departments were looking for equipment upgrades.  None of those projects made it through the city’s budget process.

“We need to pull it back this year and be lean,” Mayor Ruth Hughs said during a budget workshop. “Then we can see where we go in the future.”

City Manager Mike Press discussed with the City Commission about the cities reserve funds.  He told Commissioners while having too little in reserves is not a good practice, the reverse of having too much in reserve is also not good practice.  Press recommended that the city should spend down some of the reserves in excess.  While city officials agreed with the principal, some of the Commission was skittish about spending much of those reserves.

In the end, the city passed a $14,423,225 budget for 2014 with no raise in the mill levy or fees for city services.

The School District did not follow suit of the city and decided to add 3.008 mills to the levy this year.  Last year the School District held steady with no increases in the mill levy, but stated it was not possible to do it again this year.  School Superintendent Don Grosdidier and new Finance Director Jason Oehlert told the School Board that the declining rate of state aid on the Local Option Budget over the past four years has taken a toll on districts like Eudora with lower property wealth.

Grosdidier also talked about how the District continues to wrestle with low assessed valuation per pupil, which also has not grown according to the conservative projections at the time of the 2007 bond. In the Board Briefs from the budget hearing it stated that the lack of projected revenue growth in assessed valuation has required the district to raise more mills to meet the financial obligations on bond and interest.

“The fact that the state is not equalizing the LOB like it supposed to has a very negative effect on property poor districts like Eudora,” Grosdidier said to the Board. “Our low assessed valuation creates a dependence for us on state aid and any decrease in state aid is going to cause a very disproportionate increase in our mill rate.”

Grosdidier reiterated that people need to lobby the state legislators to equally fund all school districts.  He talked about how the property rich districts are able to easily fund their schools, but towns without many business or high property values cannot keep up.

“If this trend continues for Eudora, our patrons are going to get less and pay more.”

The School Board approved a General Fund budget of $9,217,341 for the 2013-2014 school year.  While full line items of any cuts were not given to the public, Grosdidier has stated during past years budget discussions that the district has made numerous cuts and there are no easy cuts left to make.

The mill levy for the Eudora School District will now be 75.143 mills.  For a home valued at $150,000, this means the School District taxes will be $1250.22.  The 3.008 mill addition means that number has increased by $51.75.

For comparison, the Eudora School District has the second highest mill levy rate in the area. De Soto hits the top of the charts with 81.78 mills.  Lawrence, Tonganoxie, Baldwin, Gardner, Basehor and Wellsville have school district mill rates lower than Eudora. Wellsville, at the cheapest, comes in at 59.897 mills.

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