For the second time in three years, Whitley County School District employees are getting a pay raise.
During a special called meeting late Thursday afternoon, the Whitley County Board of Education approved a 1 percent salary increase for all employees effective July 1.
“We are glad to be able to do it,” noted Board Chairman Larry Lambdin.
Whitley County Superintendent Scott Paul said this is something that the board has wanted to do for some time.
“This is something that we wanted to do, have tried to do lots of times. We just simply haven’t had the money,” Paul said. “We just felt like since this year we ended the year in such better financial shape that we needed to reward those people that have taken the hits and not complained. We’d like to do it every year. We just can’t. We felt like it was important to reward our staff.”
Deputy Superintendent Paula Trickett noted that in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the district only finished the year with a 1.8 percent contingency fund or about $380,000.
“This past year we have added about $1 million to the coffers. The unaudited annual financial report is showing a 4.8 percent contingency that is the highest it has been since 2009-2010 I think,” Trickett told the board.
This gave the district about a $1.3 million contingency fund balance for the start of the current fiscal year.
“I am real excited about that,” Trickett added.
She said this is part of the payoff the district is now seeing from cuts that have been made the past four to five years.
“What a difference a year makes,” Paul noted. “We have had to tell a lot of people no on a lot of projects and on a lot of things we haven’t been able to afford to do. Everyone has just been positive about jumping in whether it has been athletics cutting back or whatever program or fund we are talking about. We’ve gotten cooperation from everybody throughout the whole district that has helped us get to this point.”
The last raise school employees received was a state-mandated 2 percent raise during the 2015-2016 school year.
Also during Thursday’s meetings, the board set 2017-2018 tax rates.
The real estate and personal property tax rates were set at 42.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, which includes a 0.5 cents per $100 of assessed value increase for prior the year’s losses through exonerations.
Paul noted this is the state recommended compensating rate, which theoretically should generate as much revenue for the school district this current fiscal year as last year’s rate did.
Paul added that the new rate doesn’t require a public hearing since it is not over a 4 percent increase from the prior year.
The board set the motor vehicle and watercraft tax rate at 55.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is the same rate as the prior year.
Thursday’s meeting was held in the Whitley County High School Cafeteria. It was moved to the school cafeteria in anticipation of a planned football scrimmage that evening, which was scheduled after the board meeting, but the scrimmage got postponed one day due to inclement weather.