Twin Bridges School Board approves levy for May election

TWIN BRIDGES – Following a review of the 2012-2013 budget projections the Twin Bridges School Board decided to ask voters to pass a mill levy.

However, the exact amount of the levy wasn’t settled on at the meeting last Tuesday.

The district is receiving an increase of more than $30,000 in state funding from last year, said superintendent Chad Johnson. This increase is primarily due to growing student enrollment.

“The scenario where we’re currently at is a good thing,” Johnson said. “I don’t think many schools are going to turn around and say that their budget increased by $30,000 in the previous year.”

Currently the district operates off of 90.56 mills annually. The amount of the mill levy for this year’s election will be determined at a special board meeting within the next few weeks.

A voter-approved levy of 2.31 mills would increase the school district’s budget by $10,000. In terms of property taxes, the levy would collect an additional $3.40 for a home valued at $100,000. A levy of 4.62 mills would give the district an additional $20,000 and increase property taxes on a $100,000 home by $6.80.

Board chair Dave Ashcraft said that voters have always approved what the board of trustees has asked them for, and a small levy like this provides a much needed sense of security for covering expenses the district has yet to incur such as insurance costs and teacher salaries.

Ashcraft continued to remind the board that over the last three years they have reduced the burden to the taxpayers by almost $30,000, largely through fiscal conservatism, saving money and re-appropriating district funds.

“It’s been a saving grace for this district,” he said.

Trustee Lori Harshbarger approached the levy from the taxpayers’ perspective.

“I want to know what is the purpose of this,” Harshbarger said. “And I think that’s what most people would probably want to know.”

Ashcraft responded by urging the board to come together as quickly as possible to determine how much they want to ask the voters to approve in the mill levy election.

“People can talk about it, discuss it,” Ashcraft said. “People can vote it up or down on its merits.”

“We’re not trying to sneak it in the back door at the last minute,” he said. “I think if we’re going to ask for it, the voters need to see it and need to understand where we’re at.”

During the meeting the board also approved the contract with St. James Health Care in Butte for athletic training services. The cost of the contract will be $10,500.

The board discussed the merits of the service in terms of cost and safety for student athletes. Members of the public in attendance at the meeting said that the responsibility of diagnosing and monitoring injuries for students can be an excessive burden to the coaching staff, and having a trained professional who knows what to look for in caring for student athletes is an invaluable service.

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