Prop L tax hike projected to generate $8.4 million in 2011-’12 for Lindbergh

Board to consider approval of teacher pay for two years.

By MIKE ANTHONY

A 65-cent tax-rate increase approved by Lindbergh Schools voters last November is projected to generate nearly $8.4 million for the 2011-2012 school year.

For the coming school year, Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane anticipates total operating revenue of $60,812,763 — an increase of $7,548,236 over 2010-2011 operating revenue, according to an executive summary of the proposed 2011-2012 budget.

But except for the $8,378,450 in Prop L revenue and “modest increases in sales tax and tuition,” all other revenue sources continue to decline. The total revenue decline is estimated at $842,224, the executive summary stated.

Operational expenditures for the 2011-2012 school year are projected at $59,435,504 — an increase of $2,112,284 over 2010-2011 operating expenditures.

“This increase will restore expenditures put on hold for library and textbook purchases. It will also support the transition changes needed to fulfill the promise of the Prop R 2008 bond issue to eliminate the middle school overcrowding and move toward a neighborhood school model for the elementary schools,” the executive summary stated.

“It will continue to meet the mandated obligations to the retirement system and maintain the self-insurance program. Over a two-year period, it will also provide a-close-to-CPI (Consumer Price Index) increase in staff compensation. Finally, it designates that $250,000 be restored to the reserve fund,” according to the executive summary.

Board of Education members were scheduled to discuss the proposed 2011-2012 budget during a workshop Tuesday night — after the Call went to press. As proposed, the board will consider approval of the budget for the coming school year when it meets Tuesday, June 14.

Also Tuesday, the board was scheduled to consider approval of teacher salary schedules for the 2011-2012 school year and the 2012-2013 school year.

“The proposed 2011-2012 budget represents the culmination of an arduous process to maintain the highest quality educational program during a multi-year period of severe economic downturn. The direct result of this recession has been a cumulative loss in revenue of over $15 million,” the budget executive summary stated. “The Board of Education through the careful and deliberate use of reserves, adoption of over $6 million in budget reductions and the successful passage of an operational tax increase will have ‘weathered the economic storm’ and will return to an annual balanced budget with the final adoption of the proposed budget.”

Cognizant of the financial difficulty residents and businesses are experiencing as a result of the recession, Lindbergh officials pledged in late 2008 not to seek a tax-rate increase for at least 24 months.

The district’s long-range financial plan called 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 left Lindbergh with a projected budget deficit for the 2009-2010 school year of roughly $6 million, though that amount later decreased to about $4.8 million.

The decline in Lindbergh’s assessed valuation since the 2007-2008 school year has resulted in a cumulative loss of $15 million in tax revenue to the district.

While the majority of local taxing districts rolled up their tax rates through the Hancock Amendment to regain lost property-tax revenue, Lindbergh was unable to roll up its tax rate because its rate was set at the state minimum — $2.75.

The passage of Prop L marks the first time Lindbergh will be able to roll up its tax rate should its assessed valuation decrease.

The Board of Education’s decision last June to place the tax-rate increase before voters in November came after making $4.7 million in cuts for the 2010-2011 school year. For the current school year, 60 positions were eliminated, including 45 teaching positions.

Prop L will increase Lindbergh’s operational tax rate to $3.40 per $100 of assessed valuation from the current rate of $2.75.

The district’s total tax rate will increase to $3.81 per $100 from the current rate of $3.16. The owner of a $200,000 home will pay an additional $247 per year and the owner of a $100,000 home will pay an additional $124 per year.

Revenue from Prop L will allow the board to approve a balanced budget for the first time since 2002.

Had the tax-rate increase not been approved, 80 teaching positions would have had to be eliminated. As a result, class sizes would have increased to the mid-30s from the current size of the mid-20s.