CHEROKEE, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas school district is facing some difficult funding decisions because it must return some money to taxpayers due to a clerical error.
The exact amount the Southeast USD 247, with schools in Clearwater and Weir, will have to return to taxpayers has not been determined, and county officials are deciding how to refund the money, The Pittsburg Morning-Sun reported Tuesday.
The problem began when the district was authorized in September 2012 to renew its annual collection of four mills in capital improvement funds for the next five years. A former board clerk documented that the resolution was passed, but board records don’t include the signed resolution and it was not legally published, the district said in a news release.
Superintendent Glenn Fortmayer said the mistake was missed by several district and county officials, including him, and by two independent financial services.
“None of the seven board members saw it. I didn’t catch it. When it went to the county clerk’s office, they go by the budget. It got through that level and, of course, it was assessed,” he said. “We believed that the 2012 resolution had been submitted properly just like all other resolutions in the past.”
The mistake was caught after a resident asked for public records when the district’s board later proposed doubling the capital outlay from four to eight mills.
Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle said Tuesday’s elections had prevented clerks from determining how much would be refunded. He plans to discuss the issue with the county counselor and the Kansas Association of School Boards.
Fortmayer said the district has enough money to cover the refund but will have to tighten its belt in the next year. He said such things the district will have to put off buying a new bus, replacing band uniforms and making playgrounds accessible for handicapped patrons.
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