WC School Board: Tax hike will be last resort

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PUBLIC APOLOGY – West Carroll Board of Education member Kyle Foster apologizes to school district residents for suggesting last month that the school district’s property tax rate needs to be increased to cover rising costs.

West Carroll Board of Education members said they will try to avoid raising the school district property tax rate for as long as possible, though some admitted that a tax hike might become unavoidable at some point in the future.

Discussions regarding the tax rate and rising expenses were held during an October 3 work session immediately before the regular monthly board meeting in the West Carroll Junior-Senior High School cafeteria.

Board member Kyle Foster started the discussion by apologizing for comments he made during the September work session, during which he suggested that a tax rate increase was needed in order to meet the rising cost of running the school system.

“I’m sincerely apologetic for putting the cart before the horse,” said Foster. “But this is definitely something that will need to be talked about in the future.”

Foster pointed out that desired projects like providing Chromebooks for all students and possibly constructing a vocational facility for the district are going to cost a lot of money, while the district’s fund balance dips a little lower every year.

Foster added, however, that in the meantime they will keep digging for any way to get additional funding and cut unnecessary spending.

“I’m sorry if I stepped on any toes,” said Foster. “I shouldn’t have gone there.”

“We don’t’ want to raise taxes, and maybe we won’t have to,” said board member Mike Foster, who acknowledged that local farmers would be hit hardest by a property tax increase.

Foster commented that state and federal governments are always giving mandates to public schools, but they don’t always offer additional funding to go with those mandates.

“If the state says to do it, you have to do it,” he said.

Board chairman William Robinson pointed out that the district now has a grant writer and they can start looking more closely at some budget items for cost-cutting possibilities.

“I guarantee everything will be exhausted before we get to that,” said Robinson.

• • •

During the regular meeting:

•The board approved 18 board policy updates on first readings.

•The board voted 5-1 not to change the board’s current policy regarding nepotism. Board member Patrick Lindsey voted against this measure.

•The board authorized the creation of three additional educational assistant positions to be paid for out of IDEA funds.

•The board generally agreed to seek additional bids for the resealing of the parking lot at the junior-senior high school.

•The resignation of educational assistant Sally Arnold was accepted.

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