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District 25 budget passes, up 12.6 percent

District 25 budget passes, up 12.6 percent

Jul 17, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The capital projects fund went from $4 million to $9 million to handle two upgrades.

Fremont County School District 25 passed a $66 million budget Wednesday for the fiscal year that started July 1 and approved 26.75 mills total in project taxes.

The plan calls for a 12 percent increase in spending.

"Most of that is in the capital projects fund. That went from $4 million to $9 million to handle two projects," district business manager Mike Collins said. "There was an increase in general fund spending by about 4 percent."

One major project affecting that budget is to replace the heating and air conditioning system and update the fire alarm system at Riverton High School. Another is upgrading a bus barn by installing a sprinkler system, expanding the mechanic's space and moving an office area.

The work on the high school should take two to three years,

district superintendent Terry Snyder said in an interview, and the bus barn remodel would take about one year.

A third capital project is the new K-3 school to be called Willow Creek Elementary.

General fund spending is due to rise by $1.5 million to $37.8 million, largely due to increases in salary, benefits and purchased services spending. Officials were confident they had revenues to cover the higher expenditures.

"We had some more revenues," Collins said at the meeting.

Some higher revenues came from the state funds for capital projects, Snyder said in an interview. Others came from an external cost adjustment that raised the state's funding by 1 percent, which was earmarked for salaries.

Funding for special education was higher as well because the school is paid this year for last year's expenses, and spending was higher last year.

"It's one year in arrears," Snyder said.

The higher spending was a good thing inasmuch as it reflected success in securing state funding for new buildings, Snyder said at the meeting.

"We've had success with the school facilities department. Those are kind of uncontrolled numbers but good news numbers for us," he said. "We were only one of five districts that were approved for projects, and we had two projects (the bus barn and the high school) in that one."

The board also approved requesting property taxes be levied for local education. It asked for 25 mills for the school district, .5 of a mill for the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Education Services, .25 of a mill for the Northwest Board of Cooperative Education Services, and 1 mill for the School District 25 Recreation Board.

Both the budget and property tax requests passed unanimously.

At the meeting, Snyder commented the property tax rate for education was a small fraction of what it was in Nebraska, where he lived until he moved to Wyoming four years ago.

"Wyoming pays all the transportation costs, all the special ed costs, if we build a building project, other than things we want to do for enhancement, it's paid for by the state," he said in an interview. "It's just a wonderful benefit the minerals provide the state of Wyoming."

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