Holton Board of Education set to rescind action on "continuous" mill levy
An opinion issued by the Kansas Attorney General in recent days that continuous mill levy approval for school district capital outlay funds is unconstitutional has prompted the Holton school board to schedule a special meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24.
Dennis Stones, superintendent of schools, said that the attorney general’s opinion now requires the Holton school board to rescind action taken at an earlier board meeting to seek a continuous capital outlay mill levy for Holton USD 336 and to then approve a new motion to seek approval for a capital outlay fund mill levy for a new five-year time period.
The Holton school board, in a public notice published twice earlier in The Holton Recorder, as required by law, was asking patrons for approval of a "continuous'' mill levy for the school district's capital outlay fund, instead of a "renewable'' one.
The board at a recent meeting approved a motion to seek a “continuous and permanent annual tax levy (for capital outlay) in an amount not to exceed 8 mills.”
The board's practice up to this time had been to seek approval for the capital outlay mill levy for five-year increments. That means every five years the district (through the publication of a public notice) gives the voters notice that it would like to renew its capital outlay mill levy for another five year time period.
“The benefits of a continuous capital outlay would allow the board to have planning opportunities for the future and still make the decision to levy the mills needed up to eight for capital improvements,’’ Supt. Stones said at the time. “This will also allow the board to begin making some much-needed improvements to the middle and high schools and assure themselves of not losing the levy in the middle of a project.’’
Stones said the continuous capital outlay fund mill levy for the school district would have continued at 8 mills, its current level.
"It's not a tax increase,'' Stones said at the time. "The district has had this capital outlay mill levy for several years.''
Currently, 1 mill generates $42,379 in local tax revenues in Holton USD 336.
Stones said the full 8 mills for capital outlay will be needed for at least the next nine years to be able to meet lease-purchase payments on the new addition at the high school.
Having the continuous authority to levy 8 mills for capital outlay every year would have not meant that the school board would have been required to levy 8 mills every year, Stones said.
Capital outlay funds for school districts can be used for purchases as real estate, computers, school buses and for the repayment of bond issues.
District patrons, according to the public notice on the continuous mill levy for capital outlay funds published recently, if they would have opposed the “continuous’’ nature of the resolution, could have petitioned the district to place the question on a special election ballot or the next general election ballot. Such petitions need to be signed by no fewer than 10 percent of the qualified voters in the district within 40 calendar days of the last publication of the resolution.
Opposing the “continuous’’ capital outlay plan would not have prevented the school board from planning for the district’s financial future. It would have required that the board continue to seek patron approval for the capital outlay levy every five years, as is the current practice. Holton patrons have never opposed the board’s capital outlay funding requests under the current practice.
Stones said he had not received an explanation from the Attorney General’s office about the new opinion. He said more than 100 school districts in Kansas had in recent years received patron approval for a continuous mill levy for capital outlay funds.