Subject: Revenues from Tax Sources
Suggestions Relative to the 1999 Annual School Election and the 1999-2000 Proposed Budget
Ark. Code Ann. 6-12-101, 6-12-103, 6-13-607, 6-13-616, 6-13-622, 6-14-102
Ark. Code Ann. 6-14-106, 6-14-109, 6-14-111, 6-14-118, 6-14-121
Ark. Code Ann. 7-5-210, 7-5-304, 26-80-110, 26-80-111
There are various legal requirements concerning budget publication, school tax rates, and school elections. The following suggestions were designed to aid local school districts in meeting these requirements. Also enclosed are five forms suggested for use in publishing the school district budget, including a sample ballot form to accompany each.
The tax rate proposed for the 1999 election will be collected during the 2000-01 school year. The proposed budget of estimated expenditures should be for the 2000-01 school year. The current year's budget may be used as a guide for estimating each category of the 2000-01 budget. The following are highlights of various legal requirements:
1. Date of Election - September 21, 1999; hours are continuous from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. (A.C.A. 7-5-304 and 6-14-102).
2. One hundred and fifty (150) ballots should be printed for each 100 or fraction of 100 electors voting at the last comparable election. (A.C.A. 7-5-210).
3. The school district shall pay the expenses of the election. (A.C.A. 6-14-118).
4. If the tax rate proposed in the school election is rejected, the tax rate voted by the district the previous year will continue in effect, unless a debt service millage originally voted as a continuing levy for a bond issue has been paid. Amendment 74 requires a Uniform Rate of Tax. If a district does not meet this requirement or fails to pass an increase, an automatic tax increase will occur.
5. Ballots should be printed before August 27, 1999 so they will be available for absentee voters.
The following is a schedule of dates and activities that are required by various sections of the Annotated Code.
THE DEADLINE FOR PUBLICATION OF THE PROPOSED BUDGET IS JULY 23TH 1999
ON OR BEFORE JULY 23:
PREPARE THE 2000-01 PROPOSED BUDGET of estimated expenditures together with a sufficient rate of tax.
SCHOOL BOARD APPROVAL OF BUDGET
The proposed 2000-01 budget should be approved by the school board and recorded in the minutes. Some districts may need to seek approval at the June meeting in order to meet the deadline.
PUBLICATION OF BUDGET
For fiscal year 1999-00, the 2000-01 budget should be published on or before July 23, 1999, if the publication is in a daily newspaper. If the advertisement is placed in a weekly newspaper, it should be published by the week of July 16, 1999. It has been suggested that the proposed budget be published at least one week prior to the legal deadline to allow for corrections if an error is printed.
The statutory requirement (A.C.A. 6-13-622) states:
(a) The requirement for publication of the budget shall be discharged by the board of directors of each school district by publication of its budget one (1) time in some newspaper published in the county in which the district lies or, if the district lies in more than one (1) county, in the county in which the district is administered.
(b) Such publication shall be made not less than sixty (60) days before the annual school election.
The statutory requirement (A.C.A. 6-14-102) states:
(a) The annual school election shall be held in each school district of the state on the third Tuesday in September.
(b) The board of directors of any school district shall have the authority to hold the annual school election on a date other than that fixed by law, provided that:
(1) The proposed budget of expenditures for the previous year, as published, incorrectly stated a proposed expenditure or rate of tax levy, as set forth in a certificate or certificates signed by each member of the board of directors, or was not published within the time required by law; or
(2) The district has suffered damage to its physical facilities in an amount exceeding one hundred twenty-five thousand dollars ($125,000) as a result of fire or other natural disaster and the board of directors has determined that the proceeds of insurance on these facilities will be insufficient to restore or replace the facilities: or
(3) The district will lose state aid because of a court decision or legislation enacted by the General Assembly and the board of directors takes action to change the date of the annual school election to consider a millage increase no less than sixty (60) after the court's decision or effective date of the legislation.
ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 9
PETITION FOR CANDIDATE FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND FOR COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION (A.C.A. 6-12-103)
(a) The county board of election commissioners shall place on the ballots used in each annual school election, as candidates for membership on the county board of education, the names of any qualified electors whose names have been presented to the county board of election commissioners by a petition signed by twenty (20) or more qualified electors of the zone such candidate seeks to represent, at least forty-five (45) days before the date of the election.
(b) Candidates must be residents of the zone wherein the vacancy exists or the term of the incumbent is expiring.
(c) The candidates for board member at large shall qualify in the same manner, except that in such case the term "zone" shall mean the county as a whole.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR DIRECTORS (A.C.A. 6-13-616)
(a) No person shall be eligible to be a member of any school district board of directors in this state unless he is a qualified elector of the school district which he serves.
(b) No person who is elected to a school district board of directors shall be eligible for employment in that same school district
QUALIFICATIONS FOR COUNTY BOARD MEMBER (A.C.A. 6-12-101)
(b) The members of county boards of education shall be qualified electors known for their good moral character, honesty, industry, public spirit and interest in education, and who do not hold any salaried or fee office of the state or any political subdivision thereof.
ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 12
WRITE-IN CANDIDATES (A.C.A. 6-14-111)
(c) Votes for a write-in candidate for school district director or member of the county board of education shall not be counted or tabulated unless, not later than forty (40) days before the annual school election, the candidate notifies in writing the county board of election commissioners of his or her intention to be a write-in candidate.
PREPARATION OF THE BALLOT
The local school board and the county school supervisors' secretary/designee office should assist the county board of election commissioners in the preparation of the ballot. Special attention should be given to the following requirements relative to the ballot preparation.
ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 22
1. The number on the ballot must be covered by a black sticker.
2. The ballot format should be checked carefully before it is printed to ensure that the total tax rate is listed on the ballot. The ballot should also list separately the millage to be voted for dedicated maintenance and operations and debt service. There will be no maintenance and operations millage reported on the ballot with the exception of a proposal for an increase in maintenance and operation millage or a transfer of mills to maintenance and operations. If an increase or transfer in maintenance and operations millage is proposed, then only the incremental increase in the millage will be reflected on the ballot.
3. The ballot should be printed well in advance of the election to allow for corrections in the event there are errors, and to provide ballots for absentee voting. (Ballots for absentee voting should be delivered to the county clerk twenty-five (25) days before the election which is August 27, 1999.)
4. CAUTION - Special attention should be given to the debt service millage placed on the ballot. The total debt service millage should be no greater than the sum of millages pledged to bond issues that will still be outstanding in the 2000-01 school year.
POLLING PLACES (A.C.A. 6-14-106)
(a) The county board of election commissioners of each county shall designate all the polling sites for each school district in its respective county, including districts having territory in more than one (1) county but which are domiciled in its county for administrative purposes, and shall provide the election supplies and appoint the election officials for holding all school elections…
(d) The board of directors of each school district shall cause to be published, by at least one (1) insertion in a newspaper with general circulation in the county wherein the school district is located, not more than ten (10) days nor less than three (3) days prior to any school election, a notice identifying the polling site for each ward or precinct. If the polling site for any ward or precinct has changed since the last election, the notice shall indicate the change.
NOTE: It has been opined by the Attorney General that there must be at least one polling place in every precinct located within the boundaries of the school district. (Opinion Attorney General 95-241 and 95-123).
WHEN AUTHORIZED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS (A.C.A. 6-13-607)
(a) (1) The board of directors of a school district shall have the authority to provide by resolution, by a majority vote, that all board members be elected by zone. In a school district divided by zone, each board member shall be voted upon by the qualified electors of the zone from which that person is a candidate. The name of the candidate shall appear upon the ballot only in the zone in which he is a candidate. Zones established by the board of directors of a school district shall be of substantially equal population…
(3) Upon the adoption of the resolution, it shall be published by school district at least thirty (30) days before the next regular school election.
NOTE: This year the resolution shall be published by August 22, 1999.
ON OR BEFORE SEPTEMBER 6
ABSENTEE VOTING PROCEDURES The county clerk is the custodian of the absentee ballots and administers the absentee voting procedures. Copies of the official ballot, by law, must be delivered to the county clerk at least fifteen (15) days before the election.
ON OR BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1
NOTICE OF SCHOOL ELECTION (A.C.A. 6-14-109)
(a) The board of directors of each school district shall give notice, by advertisement once a week for three (3) weeks, of each election to be held within the district, setting out the time, place, and questions to be submitted to the electors at the election.
(b) The advertisement herein provided for shall begin at least twenty (20) days before the date of the school election and shall be in a newspaper either published in or having a bona fide circulation in the county wherein the district is administered.
(c) This provision for notice of school elections shall be the sole requirement for the publication of the notice.
ON OCTOBER 12
RUNOFF ELECTION (A.C.A. 6-14-121)
(a) Whenever there are more than two (2) candidates for election to any county or district school board at any election held in this state, and no candidate for any county or district position receives a majority of the votes cast for the office, there shall be a runoff election held in the county or district. The runoff election shall be held three (3) weeks following the date of the election; the names of the two (2) candidates receiving the highest number of votes, but not a majority, shall be placed on the ballot to be voted upon by the qualified electors of the county or the district, as the case may be.
(b) The person receiving the majority of the votes cast for the position at the runoff election shall be declared elected.
(c) In the event the two (2) candidates seeking election to the same county or district position shall receive the same number of votes, a tie shall be deemed to exist. The county board of education, at an open public meeting and in the presence of the two (2) candidates, shall determine the winner by lot.
CONSOLIDATION AND ANNEXATION MILLAGE (A.C.A. 26-80-111)
(a) When a new school district is created from all or parts of two (2) or more districts or a district is dissolved and all or part of the area of the dissolved district is annexed to or consolidated with an existing district, the board of directors of the resulting district shall submit to the electors of the district at the next annual school election a proposed tax millage rate for the district. If the proposed millage rate is approved by the electors of the district, it shall be the rate for the district, provided such rate complies with the uniform rate of tax.
(b) If a new school district is created from all or parts of two (2) or more districts or a district is dissolved and all or part of the area of the dissolved district is annexed to or consolidated with an existing district and if the electors have failed to approve a proposed millage rate at an annual school election, then the millage rate for the district shall be the millage rate levied, at the last school election prior to the consolidation, annexation or merger in the district which had the highest average daily membership during the school year preceding the consolidation, annexation or merger, provided such rate complies with the uniform rate of tax.
DEDICATED MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION MILLAGE
(A.C.A. 26-80-110)(Capital Outlay/Current Expenditures)
(a) (1) In addition to other maintenance and operating millages, the Board of Directors of each local school district is authorized, upon approval of a majority of the qualified voters in the school district voting in the annual school election to levy and collect a tax upon real, personal, and utilities property for dedicated maintenance and operation millage for the local school district.
(2) The approved tax shall be assessed, levied and collected as provided by law for other school taxes.
(3) The approved tax may be considered part of the school district's uniform rate of tax as calculated by the State Department of Education under Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 74.
(b) Any funds received from the collection of a dedicated maintenance and operations tax shall only be used for the following purposes:
(1) Purchase of school buses;
(2) Purchase of furniture or equipment to support the instructional program;
(3) Purchase of computer software;
(4) Renovation or repair of existing facilities; or
(5) Repaying revolving loans for any of the purposes previously listed.
(c) (1) Local school districts which have levied a capital outlay tax or current expenditures tax prior to the amendment of this section are authorized to continue such levies for the terms and purposes approved by the majority of voters at the time of their adoption…
(d) Any levy of a dedicated maintenance and operation millage proposed subsequent to the adoption of this section shall be limited as set forth in subsection (b) of this section and, when combined with capital outlay or current expenditure levies approved prior to the adoption of this section and still in effect, shall not exceed five percent (5%) of current expense or three (3) mills, whichever is less.
(e) Any levy of a dedicated maintenance and operation millage must be specified on the ballot, and that specification must list the purpose for which the dedicated maintenance and operation millage is levied.
The following are sample Budgets for each of the following circumstance:
I No Change in Mills
II Transfer of Mills
III New Bond Issue
IV Extending Existing Tax or Increase of Total Millage
V Required Increase in Uniform Rate of Tax