School of the Osage Board of Education bumped its tax levy a bit Monday night for the coming fiscal year.

School of the Osage Board of Education bumped its tax levy a bit Monday night for the coming fiscal year.

The new rate will be $3.049 per $100 of assessed valuation, up from last year's $2.939. A public hearing was held before the regular meeting, and there were no written or oral comments made by the public.

There are four funds supported by the tax levy: Incidental, teacher, debt service and capital projects. Only the property tax rate for the operating and capital projects funds increased. Fund 1 pays for operations, fuel, electricity, food, classified salaries and supplies. 

The incidental fund tax levy increased from $1.46 to $1.53. The capital projects levy increased from .08 to .12 per $100 of assessed valuation. The other funds remained unchanged at .95 for the teacher fund and .449 for debt service.

The school's operating fund is a total of the incidental, teacher and capital projects funds - $2.60 for the coming fiscal year. That ranks the SOTO district as having the second lowest operating levy in the state, just behind Camdenton at $2.56 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The tax rate is set to produce the the revenue from property tax upon which school districts operate, and is calculated based on the assessed valuation of the district. The assessed value of the district, which includes parts of Camden, Miller and Morgan counties, for the 2016 tax year is $544,736,517. That's up slightly from the 2015 assessed value of $542,662,114.

"The assessed value has been relatively flat for our district since 2008," Superintendent Brent Depeé noted during a tax levy public hearing Monday. "Just to maintain our debt service we need an increase in assessed value of about 2.5 percent every year. We haven't had that."

Dr. Depeé noted that the district had to dip into its reserve funds the last four years during the eight years of no or little growth in the assessed valuation, which needs to increase "significantly" over the next few years to prevent further increases in the tax levy. Voter approval would be needed if the district levy moves above $2.75.

"That still leaves us 15 cents that we can assess without a vote of the patrons," Depeé explained.

The amount of property tax revenues budgeted for the four funds breaks down as followed:

Incidental — $8,334,469

Teachers — $5,174,997

Debt Service — $2,445,867

Capital Projects — $653,684

Total — $16,609,017

The district has invested heavily in technology the last two years, and has undertaken some major capital improvement projects including a new HVAC system at the high school, a completion of a roof project for the district, new tennis courts and new lights at the football field. Renovation of the Heritage Building is covered by a bond issued approved by the voters two years ago.

Budget

The increase in overall levy has been considered for several months as the school district's assessed valuation has remained flat.

Depeé told the board of education in June that the school is receiving less state and federal education funding, the assessed valuation of Miller and Camden counties is virtually flat and the school continues to have capital expenditure needs.

"We are more and more relying on local funding," Depeé said.

Five years ago, 80 percent of the revenue was from local sources, 10 percent was from state and 10 percent from federal sources. Today, it's 84 percent local and 8 percent each from state and federal.

"Our assessed valuation is critical," he said. "It affects our operating budget and our debt service. We have to have growth."

To meet growing infrastructure needs last year, the board last August approved an increase in the tax levy from $2.849 per $100 of assessed valuation to $2.939.

Depeé said he has trimmed the requested capital improvement budget to a little more than $1 million for the coming year, down from $3.5 million for the current year.