Kalispell Schools’ $67M budget brings taxpayer relief

September 7, 2018

Kalispell Public Schools will operate on roughly 400,000 in district-wide cuts, additional operating and maintenance costs for the new Rankin Elementary, passage of an elementary district 32.8 million budget for the 2018-19 school year. This is a 34.4 million. This is a 687,294 in Kalispell Public Schools’ general fund and various block grants.

Andersen summarized how Guaranteed Tax Base Aid works.

“They [the state] compare the statewide taxable value per student to the district’s taxable value per student. If you’re below the statewide average they increase your state funding. So theoretically, everyone will be at the statewide average,” Andersen said. “So, in Kalispell, that has really helped our budget situation from a local tax standpoint.”

Andersen said the Guaranteed Tax Base Aid increase will continue over the next two years.

“The goal by the end of year three was that schools would be made whole from those cuts,” Andersen said.

She countered the statement by adding, “When the state increases their share it’s with the idea that they will reduce local taxes. At the end of the day we’re all the same taxpayers. We pay the state taxes and we pay the local taxes.”

The combination of the taxable value and Guaranteed Tax Base Aid increases means the district will levy less mills than originally anticipated during preliminary planning.

Across all elementary district funds, there was about half a mill increase according to Andersen. The elementary district could have raised 18 mills in the general fund alone, with the passage of the 100,000, one mill generates 300 to 785,000 loan to the program out of an interlocal fund with the intention that it will be repaid over time.

The interlocal fund currently contains about $3 million in elementary and high school district end-of-year funds. Money from this fund has been used to cover technology, curriculum and land purchases, but it is a finite source. Andersen said the district now is looking to earmark enough money to replace the artificial turf and infill that was installed at Legends Stadium in 2017, which is part of the high school district facilities. At the time the decision was made to replace the natural grass with artificial turf, the high school activity directors estimated the infill would need to be replenished every three to four years and the turf replaced about every 10 to 12 years.

In addition to the interlocal fund, the district has other non-budgeted or cash funds for things such as school food services, federal grants, extracurricular and traffic education.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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