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OPS board approves $621 million general fund budget, slightly increases district's tax levy

OPS board approves $621 million general fund budget, slightly increases district's tax levy

The Omaha Public Schools board approved a $621 million general fund budget and slight increase in the district’s tax levy Wednesday night.

The 2019-20 budget increases the district’s tax levy by about $0.0016 from last year to roughly $1.2467 per $100 of assessed value.

Property taxes on a $200,000 home — that doesn’t see a change in valuation — will increase by $3.29 a year. Taxes also are going up for some property owners because of an increase in property valuations. The valuation of OPS’s property tax base increased by about 7% over 2018.

Approval of the entire budget was done in several votes. Board member Ben Perlman voted no on increasing the tax levy, and the eight other board members voted yes. Board members Lou Ann Goding and Kimara Snipe voted no on the general fund, and the rest voted in favor. Goding said she wanted to see more paid into the district’s underfunded pension system.

The budget represents a 0.6% spending increase from the 2018-19 budget. It includes a $15.9 million bump in state aid, an increase of about 6%.

The district is making $10 million in expense reductions in the budget.

Courtney Bird, interim chief financial officer for OPS, said this was done by searching for unspent budget dollars and repurposing them, finding efficiencies at the central office and changing methodologies to improve the budgeting process.

The district eliminated about 15 to 20 positions at the central office, and some employees were reassigned to new roles or schools within the district.

The budget also includes a $7 million English textbook adoption, technology updates, a new busing contract and staff salary and benefit increases.

Across the district, Bird said the district estimates there will be a 2.3% increase in salary and benefits for staff for the 2019-20 budget.

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Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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