The South Western school district voted in January to seek tax cap exceptions for its $1.5 million deficit in the 2014-15 school year budget.

But the district is using the measure as a precaution, said Jeff Mummert, district business manager. The district has applied for exceptions to raise taxes above the cap set by the state every year, but has used them only once, according to Mummert.

The preliminary $59.6 million budget has increased by about $2.7 million since last year, which Mummert said is because of increases in the cost of salaries, health care, retirement contributions and special education.

The state Department of Education approved the district to raise property taxes by 0.43 mills next year. That figure is already calculated into next year's budget, according to Mummert. That means property taxes in the district will rise about $64.50 for a person with a home valued at $150,000.

If the district chooses to use the exceptions, the property tax rate will be higher than that amount.

The department must approve all applications for exceptions. South Western qualifies for a exceptions to help cover the cost of special education and retirement costs, Mummert said.

According to a budget presentation to the board on the district's website, additional expenses for next year include replacing old music and maintenance equipment, such as instruments and a snow blower, and replacement costs for physical education equipment. Two school vans are also included. In total, the estimate for all equipment requests is about $556,000 for the next school year, though any of those requests will be voted on later in the budget process.

The preliminary budget will be approved at the board meeting Wednesday, Feb. 12.

— Reach Nikelle Snader at