With cuts looming, North Platte seeks tax waiver to boost revenue

DEARBORN, Mo. — The North Platte Board of Education hopes voters will approve a ballot measure that will loosen the purse strings of the district, slightly. Voters in the Tuesday, April 7 general municipal election will be asked to allow the district to operate with a full waiver from Proposition C. The move would allow the district to operate at the voter-approved ceiling of $3.7545 per $100 of assessed valuation on property. Currently, the district operates under a partial waiver passed by voters in 1995, effectively making the ceiling $3.65, and would remain under that provision should the ballot measure fail. It needs a simple majority to pass.

The district once held a full waiver — passed in 1997 with a 15-year sunset clause — and now seek to again have that ability. However, there is not sunset clause on the current waiver proposal, a decision the board made before approving the ballot language in October of 2014.

The district operated at $3.63 per $100 in 2013, leaving them short of the Proposition C ceiling, which the state auditor’s office calculates. The board then approved going to the maximum for 2014 in August and began discussing ways to increase revenues in the district.

The board discussed the option of the ballot measure in September and ultimately decided against placing the issue on the November general election to allow more time for deliberation, while also taking the opportunity to attempt to inform voters about the district’s intentions.

Proposition C was passed in 1982, creating a 1 percent statewide sales tax to help fund education. When passed, school districts agreed to roll back local taxes to help prevent double taxation — sales and then property tax on the same items.

Voters now have the option to give up that rollback in an effort to provide additional revenue for districts when asked.

Without assurance of receiving the full waiver, the North Platte board unanimously voted at its regular March meeting to superintendent Dr. Jeff Sumy’s budget reduction plan. The district hopes to save about $160,000 per year by cutting one para-position and reducing hours of other para-employees.

Officials want to save about $66,000 of that projection by reducing teaching positions in addition to the savings from combining the junior and senior high principal positions, already approved in December of 2014.