School tax increase smaller than expected
Northtowns Correspondent
Property owners on Grand Island will see a smaller increase than they expected when they open their school tax bills.

Thanks to higher than expected assessments that added just over $66,000 to the coffers, the Grand Island School Board approved an 8.6 percent tax rate increase Monday evening, a slight decrease from the 8.9 percent voters approved when they passed the 2004-05 budget in May.

With the discussion set on what to do with the extra funds, some, such as board President David Goris, said the money should be given back to the taxpayers in the form of a decrease in the rate.

The initial vote to place the money in the fund balance to protect against rising costs in the 2005-06 budget or further reductions in state aid was shot down by a 5-2 margin.

"I believe when the community came out and supported our budget, they did so because we told them we were committed to doing what we can to keep the increase down as much as possible," Goris said. "I believe this may be viewed as breaking our commitment to them."

A tax rate of $35.64 per $1,000 of assessed value was approved Monday, 10.5 cents less per $1,000 from the approved amount of $35.74. As a result, property owners with a home assessed at $60,000 could see their bill fall from $2,144.40 to $2,138.10, or about $6.30.

Two board members, Jeri Schopp and Susan Gill, were in favor of keeping the increase as passed in May and initially voted against reducing the increase.

Schopp said instead of reducing the tax rate increase, the district should keep what she saw as its pledge to residents to protect against costs in the 2005-06 budget, which the board begins work on in January. During early budget discussions last January, the board was considering a double-digit tax rate increase.