Newcomb, Minerva head to polls again

— Voters head back to the polls Tuesday, June 18 to decide the fate of the Newcomb and Minerva school budgets, which failed to pass the first time on May 21.

If the budgets don’t pass, the school boards will be required to adopt contingency budgets, which would mean even more cuts.

Since May 21, school board members and administrators in Newcomb and Minerva have been reducing their budgets and getting tax levy increases down to levels they think voters will approve. Tough choices were made. Positions were eliminated. Extracurricular were activities removed.

In Newcomb, the School Board cut $405,470 in spending from the originally proposed plan but kept the tax levy increase above the state mandated cap of 6.94 percent. On May 21, only 52 percent of voters checked “yes” on the ballot (111 yes and 104 no), falling short of the 60 percent supermajority needed to override the state tax levy cap.

Here are the revised budget numbers:

•Proposed budget (June 18): $5,417,838

•Proposed tax levy (June 18): $4,070,969

•Tax levy increase (June 18): $459,461 or 12.72 percent

•State tax levy cap: 6.94 percent increase

•Current budget: $5,274,469

•Current tax levy: $3,611,508

By comparison, here were the May 21 numbers:

•Proposed budget (May 21): $5,823,308

•Proposed tax levy (May 21): $4,506,439

•Tax levy increase (May 21): $894,931 or 24.8 percent

In Newcomb, the School Board set up a series of three town hall meetings over the past few weeks to get public input before deciding how to trim the budget and tax levy, according to School Superintendent Skip Hults. In addition, school officials sent out a survey to residents to find out their priorities.

School Board members decided to remove the purchase of a $50,000 bus from the spending plan and add it as a separate proposition.

In the revised budget, there has been a “reduction of positions” and the removal of another position; however, the school superintendent refused to reveal which positions were being reduced/removed.

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