U46 eyes balanced budget of $452M
By Emily McFarlan Miller email@example.com August 21, 2013 1:50PM
Updated: September 23, 2013 2:19PM
ELGIN — District officials presented an ultimately balanced budget for fiscal year 2014 to the School District U46 Board of Education at its regular meeting Monday.
Total revenues in the proposed budget’s operating funds, or general fund, come to $447 million and total expenditures, to $452 million, according to the presentation by Chief Operations Officer Jeff King and Director of Financial Operations Dale Burnidge.
But that gap between revenues and expenditures “looks worse than it is,” board member Jennifer Shroder noted. That’s because of a surplus from 2012 that actually will leave the general fund $108,000 to the good.
U46 officials had presented a first pass at the budget in April, and, Burnidge said, “Since that time, we’ve been able to get better information on some of our revenues.”
As predicted, the Elgin district will receive a larger allocation of general state aid this year. That comes because of an increase in students considered low-income and a decrease in property values (the consumer price index was 1.7 percent in 2012, down from 3 percent in 2011), King and Burnidge said.
That will jump from $62.2 million to $86 million, it said.
Over the past three years, the district has included only three of four categorical payments for areas like transportation and special education from the state in its previous budgets.
State catching up
In 2010, U46 had received only about 80 percent reimbursement for its transportation from the state, Burnidge said. In 2013, that was down to about 31 percent, he said. And while U46 has been able to reduce some of its expenditures, that also brings down the amount it is reimbursed.
In July, though, Burnidge said, “They’ve caught up on payments for the first time in five years.”
As a result, U46 has budgeted for all four payments in 2014, he said.
Federal funding also will take a 3 percent hit this year (about $1 million), with the federal sequester taking effect in January, according to the presentation. U46 will receive $32.4 million, it said.
Meantime, expenditures on salaries and benefits are up: The district hired 62 new full-time positions, totaling $4 million, King and Burnidge reported. Contractual increases for teachers and support staff, as well as merit increases for administrators, come to $7 million.
Teachers Retirement System costs have increased by $2 million, and health insurance, $6 million, it said.
Board member Frank Napolitano said that while he is new to the school board, he didn’t understand how it just now was considering a budget that essentially took effect in with the new fiscal year July. That’s when staff received those salary increases, even before the board could vote on it.
King said that’s the way the school year and fiscal year are structured because of the timing when school districts find out how much money they will receive from the state. The COO doesn’t know of any other district that does it any other way, he said.
The proposed fiscal year 2014 budget now is on public display at the U46 Educational Services Center, 355 E. Chicago St., and on the U46 website, u-46.org.
Next up, the school board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at its regular meeting Monday, Sept. 16, and vote on it at a special board meeting Monday, Sept. 23. Both will be held at the Educational Services Center.