2. Historic Property Tax Reduction in Scottsbluff Public Schools

2. Historic Property Tax Reduction in Scottsbluff Public Schools
LB243 Resolution Impact: Historic Property Tax Reduction in Scottsbluff Public Schools
The Scottsbluff Public School District, Board of Education, and building and district administration work hard to maintain a school budget that addresses the needs of all students while being good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars. Ahead of the annual Budget hearing which will be held during the regular September Board of Education meeting, the Board of Education held a Special Meeting to review budget scenarios and discuss a potential LB243 Resolution.

A number of different factors affect the District budget and staff members and the Board of Education uses the following goals to guide the budgeting process: 
  • Meet the needs of students and staff

  • Maintain healthy reserves in accordance with state requirements

  • Plan for the future, guided by the District’s 5 Year Strategic Plan

  • Continue to recruit and retain high-quality staff

  • Continue to maintain a low average cost per pupil

This year, recently passed legislation impacted the budget for school districts across the state, including SBPS. LB583 provides a $1,500 Foundation Aid to Districts but did not increase State Aid for SBPS for 2023-2024. It does increase special education reimbursement from approximately 40% to 80% which should result in an estimated increase of $2.4M for the District.  

LB243 established a Certified Property Tax Authority for the General and Building Funds. As a result of this bill, School District revenues are capped at 3% annual growth plus growth for other formula factors such as poverty and increased enrollment. For 2023-2024, this results in 4.4684% Growth for SBPS. Based on this and other items such as Special Education Reimbursement and Non-property tax revenues, the District is allowed to request $17,113,261 in property taxes between the General and Building Funds. This is $549,052 less than the amount that was requested in 2022-2023. With the LB243 Resolution, the Board of Education may approve an additional base growth of up to 5% resulting in up to an additional $1,987,334 that may be accessed for the 2023-2024 budget. A 70% vote of the Board is required to pass the resolution.

LevySBPS Executive Director of Finance Marianne Carlson shared three different potential budget scenarios with the Board, all of which would result in a reduction of the levy.   After discussion was held, the Board considered a motion for the LB243 Resolution in order to give the Board authority to levy up to the additional 5%. Due to the motion not receiving a 70% vote, the resolution was not adopted. This resulted in the combined levy for the 2023-2024 school year being 0.9289 for the General and Building Fund. This is a difference of -0.1211 from the 2022-2023 school year. This is a savings of $121 for each $100,000 of valuation for Scottsbluff taxpayers.

The Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Fund (QCPUF) and the Bond Fund remained unchanged for the 2023-2024 budget year. SBPS continues to work towards an aggressive payoff schedule of bonds. The Bonds issued for the BMS Renovation, originally scheduled to be paid off in 2029 are projected to be paid off in the 2024-2025 school year. Once that occurs, that will result in an estimated $0.07 decrease in the Bond Fund levy.  

The 2023-2024 budget hearing was held at the September regular meeting where the Board of Education adopted the budget and final tax request. Future school year amounts for the General and Building Fund levy are unknown due to future year's state aid amounts being uncertain. The District will continue to use the above goals to maintain a fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of students and staff moving forward.