Local officials are watching nervously as various tax and funding plans are being floated around in Topeka.
Cuts in taxes at the state level, whether income or sales tax, could cause budget shortfalls at the school board or city level. That could eventually result in higher property taxes, local officials say.
This is especially true for schools, who receive most of their funding from the state.
"There are a lot of unknowns right now," Newton assistant superintendent for finance Dr. Russell Miller said this week. "We just have to wait and see what they do."
At the city level, Newton City Manager Randy Riggs said last week that lower sales taxes could adversely affect the city’s budget.
At last week’s District 373 school board meeting board members discussed some possible scenarios involving technical or vocational education. One state proposal is to not fund vocational type classes for high schools if a community college within 30 miles is offering the same classes.
"We have a strong career and tech education program," Miller said. "We hope to keep expanding it. We also have a strong relationship with Hutchinson Community College. This is a concern, but not our biggest concern." Miller said.
The greater concern is the overall package of school funding.
Several years ago the state put more money into schools as it was directed to by the courts after schools brought a lawsuit against the state.
Schools received a higher level of funding for about three years, but Miller said that funding has been slowly deteriorating over the past thee or four years.
Newton school officials have been looking at some "what if" scenarios, but they still may not know what their situation will be until April or later.
"That is just too late," Miller said.
School officials like to have contracts nailed down for the following school year by then, but often cannot because they don’t know what funding they will have available.
State tax changes will impact local governments
Jan 27, 2012 at 12:01 AM Jan 27, 2012 at 7:09 PM