Natchez-Adams School District wants tax increase

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 28, 2001

Faced with cuts from the state and an increase in expenses, the Natchez-Adams School District is proposing a tax increase for the upcoming year.

The public school district wants to raise its property tax rate from 43.9 to 46.32. The 2.42 difference is an increase of about $36 annually or about 10 cents a day on a house valued at $100,000.

&uot;It’s not something we want to do. It’s something we have to do,&uot; said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis. &uot;We’re scared. We don’t know what’s going to happen.&uot;

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The State of Mississippi has asked school districts to take into account cuts of 1, 3 or 5 percent in funding for the upcoming year.

A 3-percent cut would equal about $500,000 for the Natchez-Adams School District, Davis said.

To keep its budget down, the Natchez-Adams School Board asked each department to cut 5 percent this year and then it made other cuts of about 5 percent, Davis said.

But the school board is having to take into account increases in areas such as salaries not covered by the state, transportation insurance, the possible outcome of a wage and hour lawsuit – a statewide lawsuit filed by employees of school districts across the state for alleged unpaid overtime – and the rising cost of energy.

For example, &uot;last year the utilities almost tripled,&uot; Davis said.

To keep the budget down, the school district also decided not buy as many new buses this year and decreased its summer building maintenance budget from $40,000 to $20,000, Davis said.

It is also reevaluating its staffing needs.

&uot;No one has lost their job. We’re looking at positions,&uot; Davis said. &uot;Instead of cutting people you’re cutting positions, if you don’t need them.&uot;

Just one mill – a figure used to calculate property values for tax purposes – is estimated to equal $195,577.76. For this reason, the 2.42 mill increase requested by the school district equals about $473,296 in funding, Davis said.

If the increase is approved, it will be the first such increase for the school district in recent years.

Currently the school district is operating with projected total budget revenue of $39,664,941 with 19.66 percent or $7,801,837 of that funding coming from local property taxes.

For the 2001-02 year, the school district is proposing projected revenue of $41,693,469 with 19.68 or $8,206,542 of that proposed funding to come from local property taxes.

In exchange for the proposed tax increase, Davis said he wants everyone to hold the school district accountable in its efforts to improve.

&uot;It’s not just that we’re asking for something and not giving back,&uot; he said.

The Natchez-Adams School District will hold a public hearing on the budget at 4 p.m., Thursday July 5 at Braden School on Homochitto Street. The school board will vote for final approval of the budget at its regular meeting on July 12.