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Greenfield - Spending as outlined in the 2016-17 school district budget will increase 24 percent over the current year's budget as $10 million in building projects is planned for next year.

Yet, the property tax levy will be essentially flat.

That was the news that greeted residents at last week's annual meeting. The 18 residents who attended the meeting unanimously recommended approving the new budget. The Greenfield School Board will certify the new levy in late October or early November.

The schools were able to keep property taxes in check in a couple of ways, said the schools' new finance director James Weise.

"The district will be issuing bonds to cover the cost of remodeling projects. The district records the expenses during the year but only needs to levy for the current year payment on the bonds," he said in an email interview. "In addition, the district is scheduled to receive $2 million more in state equalization aid, which reduces the tax levy."

The actual tax rate is expected to fall 2.34 percent, despite the levy being nearly the same. That's because the tax base rose $48 million or 2.4 percent. That means there will be more property value to tax, so the actual tax rate can be lower. School officials estimate the rate will be $11.26 per $1,000 of assessed value, or 27 cents less than taxpayers paid this year for the Greenfield schools.

This year's payment will be nearly $5.8 million, which is nearly $1 million more than last year's debt service.

The budget proposes significantly beefing up community service spending, which is mainly the recreation department.

No school programs were dropped or reduced. Curriculum revisions and new curriculum materials were part of the budget, as they are every year.

The budget also includes 1.5 percent raises for employees that started at the beginning of the school year.

No citizens spoke on the budget at the hearing.

The proposed 2016-17 budget is $58,7. million, which is $11,2 million or 24 percent more than the district spent in its current budget. Besides the building program, a significant chunk of the additional spending comes from the general fund rising 4.33 percent.The general fund is thought of as the operating budget. Total general fund spending will be $39,926,809.

The proposed property tax levy is $23,043,382. Property taxes are estimated to be 44 percent of the district's total income. Another 40.4 percent will come in the form of state equalization aid.

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