The Iowa Legislature approved 2.06 percent rate of growth for schools in early February. It is always appreciated when this rate is determined early in the budgeting process. 

The Legislature used to be required to set this rate a full year ahead of time, but those days are gone. Also gone are the days where schools consistently were receiving 4 percent increase on an annual basis.

On the other hand, 2.06 percent is certainly better than what schools have received in recent years. 

Budget workshops are held statewide during the month of February so that schools can have their budgets set and certified by April 15. The Highland Community School District has participated in these workshops and is close to finalizing the budget recommendation for the 2019-2020 school year. 

There are many positive things to report as the budget is being prepared for board approval. 

The unspent balance continues to grow. The district has worked hard in the last few years to reduce spending and grow its unspent balance. It is anticipated the unspent balance will be close to $1 million at the end of the year.

Valuations for the district continue to grow and with the new construction taking place in the district, there is an expectation of continued growth the next several years to come. 

That is a good thing for taxpayers as the larger the valuation for the district, the more the property tax dollars needed to sustain the budget is spread out to property tax payers. 

It appears that the budget proposal that will be recommended to the Board of Education will include a further reduction from the current $13.19 per thousand valuation rate.

The other good news is that since the district experienced growth in enrollment, we will be able to go off the budget guarantee, which is passed on to property tax payers. 

Further good news is the proposed budget will probably include a reduction in the district’s Income surtax. Currently state income tax payers in the Highland Community School District pay a surtax of 7 percent.

Because of the increased valuations, growth in enrollment and 2.06 increase in aid, the district will be able to reduce the surtax rate for the next year. This is a benefit to every resident of the district who earns income, regardless of whether or not they own property.  

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