NEW EAGLE – Ringgold School Board passed a 2017-2018 preliminary budget Wednesday that would includes a 3.2 percent increase in property taxes.
The $44,324,996 budget includes an increase of $1.5 million in spending from last year’s budget of $42,799,655. The increases are mainly because of increased pension contribution and health care costs.
The increased millage will generate $546,000 to cover the increased costs. The exact millage will has not been determined yet because of recent assessments, pending assessment hearings, homestead exemptions and needed final information from Washington County, Kim Moore, supervisor of accounting.
The millage rate will be set before the final budget adoption at the board’s meeting at 7 p.m June 21.
Other factors that helped the district balance the budget included savings in retirement costs and the previous year’s tight budget, said Moore.
School Director James Dodd asked how many teachers paid for supplies out of their own pocket, and because district teachers crowded the room to show solidarity in the ongoing teacher contract negotiations, a sea of hands were raised in answer.
“This concerns me,” he said. “I think we could come up with some type of reimbursement for these expenses. Things are tight, but most employers reimburse their employers for these types of purchases. I think we should look into this before the final adoption.” Superintendent Karen Polkabla said that the board can discuss the idea of reimbursement.
The teachers’ current contract will expire June 30. Ringgold Education Association President Maria Degnan said she is happy with the progress in negotiations and added the union wants to reach an agreement before the start of the next school year. She said she is encouraged by the planned meetings and ongoing talks.
“We want to begin next year with a contract with fair wages and good health care,” Degnan said. “We feel this would be good for the students and community. We are proud of our students, our community and background. We thank you for working together towards this goal.”
The board approved the renewal of the food service contract with AVI Food Systems.
The past year has seen an increase of 21,000 meals and an increase of $30,000 in revenue.
Dodd, said his children have told him the food is prepackaged and frozen and it doesn’t taste good.
“When we first approved the contract it was supposed to be homemade food and fresh local produce,” he said. Polkabla said that produce is bought from local vendors and that much of the food is produced in house. “The pizza dough is homemade and there is a baker employed at the high school,” she said.