NEW: Lindbergh board agrees to ask voters for 65-cent tax-rate increase

Lindbergh Schools voters will consider a 65-cent tax-rate increase in the November election.

The Board of Education voted Tuesday night to place the 65-cent tax-rate increase on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Board member Mark Rudoff’s motion to place the measure on the ballot was seconded by board Vice President Vic Lenz and unanimously approved.

If approved by voters, Lindbergh’s total tax rate would increase to $3.81 per $100 of assessed valuation from the current rate of $3.16.

After the board’s vote, Superintendent Jim Simpson said, “… I’m very much pleased with your timing and your number because this district is far from financially healthy, but if our patrons understand what we’re talking about and if the majority of them support us — as we sure hope that they will — then this will make us come back to as healthy as we were in the past …”

A 65-cent tax-rate increase would cost the owner of a $200,000 home an additional $247 per year and the owner of a $100,000 home an additonal $124 per year, according to information presented to the board Tuesday night.

The board also voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a budget for the 2010-2011 school year that projects revenues of $53,892,275 with anticipated expenditures of $57,828,411 — a deficit of $3,936,136. The district will not go into the red, but will dip into its reserves, which total roughly $18.9 million.

Much of the groundwork for the 2010-2011 budget had been laid in March when the board voted unanimously to give final approval to more than $4.7 million in reductions.

The board’s action eliminated 60 positions, including 45 teaching positions. But even with the $4.7 million in reductions, the school district still faces a nearly $4 million budget shortfall next year.

The district’s long-range financial plan calls for a spend down of its reserves with a deficit-spending cap of $3 million per year. In June 2009, the school board adopted a 2009-2010 operating budget that projected a deficit of $3 million.

That $3 million deficit was reached by making more than $2 million in reductions.

But a further decline in the assessed value of commercial real estate — including successful appeals by commercial property owners to the county Board of Equalization — coupled with cuts in state funding increased the projected budget deficit for the 2009-2010 school year to roughly $6 million.

While the majority of local taxing districts have rolled up their tax rates through the Hancock Amendment to regain lost property-tax revenue, Lindbergh was unable to roll up its operating tax rate, which currently remains at the state minimum of $2.75 per $100 of assessed valuation.

Look for the full story in next week’s Call.