Steering Committee Presents Budget

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Thursday February 02, 2012

The Steering Committee, comprised of members of the City Council and the School Board, met January 25th, for a Public Hearing on the proposed City Program Budget for 2012–2013 and the proposed School District Program Budget for 2012–2013.

City Manager Sandy Miller reported that many of the financial problems that the city faced eighteen months ago have been addressed, and projects that the 2012 budget will be balanced or in surplus.

The FY2013 General Fund revenues and expenses are proposed at $18,970,660, an increase of $1,300,108, or 7.36% over the FY2012 budget.
 
FY2013 totals for all funds is $28,422,079, which is an increase of $3,009,186 over FY2012 total of $25,412,893. $1,670,650 of this increase is from stormwater capital projects, but will be offset by Stormwater Fund revenue.

Miller and Deputy City Manager Bob Rusten talked about the establishment of strategic reserve funds which will put the city in a position to accumulate money over time, so that expenses such as building maintenance could be paid for with cash from a capital improvement fund instead of borrowing. Unlike a contingency fund, which is part of the operating budget, an undesignated reserve fund does roll over. Theoretically this could be described as a ‘rainy day’ fund, and would require the vote of the City Council to be used. More budget details are available on the city website (www.sburl.com), and will be addressed in an upcoming issue of The Other Paper.

Superintendent David Young presented the proposed FY2013 school budget. All current programs and services are preserved under the proposed budget of $42,106,183 which represents an increase of 3.74% over the FY2012 budget. The residential tax is estimated to be $1.4112, an increase of 2.75% over last year.

The base budget honors the District’s contracted obligations to teachers, administrators, paraeducators, custodians, and non-union district staff. Salaries and wages comprise 60%, or $25,353,800, of the total budget, which also includes projections for substitutes, support for special education, and overtime.

20% of the budget, or $8,439,959, is slated for health benefits, the costs of which have risen 3.5%, but are partially offset by healthcare contributions of 3% by teachers, and 2% from support staff.

Another $8,312,424 is attributed to all other operating costs, and represents a decrease of 3%.
Several facets of the new proposed budget were highlighted by Young.

The One-to-One Laptop program will be expanded to provide individual computers for two additional grades, to now include four grade levels of students in seventh through tenth grades.

There are changes to consolidate bus routing with an increase in the pickup radius from .6 to .9 miles.

A $60,000 savings was realized with the reorganization of the custodial budget.

There is a 10% increase in the number of students utilizing Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Last year there were 241 students utilizing these services. That number has increased to 265 IEPs being facilitated district wide.

There are changes slated for the AP or Advanced Placement program. While Advanced Placement classes will continue to be offered, it will no longer be mandatory to take the exam. The fees for the final tests for the program have been cut from the budget, for a savings of $40,000. The test is not required, but students who are hoping to ‘place’ out of college courses, or to receive college credit from  a high test score would be responsible for the approximately $125 fee per test. A parent expressed concern that this could create an equity issue for some students enrolled in AP classes.

The Facility Stewardship program has slated maintenance and repair jobs among its projects to care for school properties. Central School will receive a new roof, and the middle school will have sidewalk, curb, and roadway fixes. Additional individual projects scattered throughout the district schools and facilities which include flooring, bathroom upgrades, window replacement, heating, and safety and security upgrades are all on the to-do list, along with updating the lease/purchase of two buses to replace two ten-year-old buses. The major projects are estimated to cost $291,150.

On the revenue side, the State Education Fund shows an increase of 2.71%, or $847,484, for a total of $32,145,228. Local revenues, comprised of tuition ($1,465,272), Federal Aid ($1,215,668) and State Aid($5,053,168), rentals ($136,288), and other revenue($254,000) bring in $8,124,396.

Also listed as revenue is a “carry over” of $1,836,559. The projection for next year’s available funds in the ‘carryover’ column could be as low as $200,000.