Bay-Wave school cuts may lead to tax hike

The Bay-Waveland School District has begun advertising a Fiscal Year 2010-2011 budget that, if approved, could lead to higher property taxes for homeowners residing within the district’s boundaries.

The district has been under pressure from state cuts to education, and has been slashing costs to overcome an estimated $1.8 million budget deficit for the coming fiscal year. The district operates elementary schools, a middle school, high school and alternative school, and has about 1,200 students.

For the upcoming budget year, the district projects revenues of $13.77 million, with 57 percent of the total – or $7.83 million – coming from local ad valorem, or property, taxes. The district now gets 49 percent of its current $14.90 million budget through ad valorem taxes.

In its budget advertisement, the district said: “This increase in ad valorem tax revenue means that you will pay more in ad valorem taxes on your home, automobile tag, utilities, business fixtures and equipment and rental real property.”

There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget at 5 p.m. on June 21 at the district board room, 201 Carroll Ave. in Bay St. Louis.

School Superintendent Rebecca Ladner said the district has been consulting with Hancock County Assessor-Collector Jimmie Ladner, Jr. on the issue. The new budget was constructed to include a tax millage hike of 3 percent for the schools, she said.

The millage increase will affect homeowners differently, depending upon the valuations of their property. As a hypothetical example, a 3-mill increase on a home assessed at $100,000 would mean a tax increase of $30 yearly, Ladner said.

He said the school district’s proposed budget is “a worst-case scenario,” and the district may not actually have to pass a budget as high as the requested $13.77 million.

But under law, the district can only collect an amount up to what its advertises prior to budget passage, he said.

“This would apply to all taxpayers located within the Bay-Waveland School District,” Ladner said.

BY: J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

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