By Jim Schroeder
Hill County taxpayers will likely have to pick up a $512,043 tab for the county's school retirement and transportation budgets.
The county's mill levy is expected to increase by 18.85 mills to cover shortfalls in the school transportation and elementary and high school retirement funds, according to Hill County Superintendent of Schools Shirley Isbell.
The mill increase is a result of action taken by the Legislature to close a projected state budget deficit during last month's special session. The Legislature cut the amount of block grant and other money that would have gone to the county funds.
The mill increase requires approval by the Hill County Commission, which will hold a public hearing on Sept. 30. Normally the countywide school mill levy would have been approved on the last Monday of August, but it was postponed a month because of the legislative special session, Isbell said.
The 18.85 mill increase would boost the retirement and transportation levies to a total of 52.09 mills for fiscal year 2002-03. The total retirement and transportation levies were at 33.24 for fiscal year 2001-02. One mill is equal to $27,160 in taxpayer revenue.
A Havre taxpayer with a home valued at $100,000 would see an increase from $2,020 in 2002 to $2,038 in 2003 for school mill levies.
According to Isbell's figures, the Legislature reduced block grants for the county's elementary retirement budget by 58.28 percent and the high school retirement budget by 57.3 percent.
The school transportation budget was hit with a 63.22 percent reduction in block grants.
Isbell estimates that other decreases in state funding, like revenue from motor vehicles taxes and personal property tax revenue, will be 36.52 percent for the county's elementary retirement budget and 34.82 percent for the high school retirement budget. The school transportation budget from those other revenue sources would likely be cut by 47.9 percent, she said.