From the Independent: Boyd school spending plan draws on contingency fund

From the Daily Independent
by Mike James
June 4, 2018

SUMMIT:  The Boyd County School District is facing some additional expenses in the coming year and will draw on its contingency fund to meet them, the district’s top finance official said.

The expenses mostly are the result of state budget cuts and increases in district pension obligations, according to finance director Don Fleu.

The Boyd board of education recently approved a $32 million tentative budget reflecting the expenses and also some revenue loss resulting from refunds the district has to make because of a miscalculation in utility tax and for a property tax overpayment that must be refunded, Fleu said.

The board will pass a working budget later this year once it gets concrete numbers on state and local funding.

On the plus side of the ledger, state per-pupil funding is slightly higher, he said.

The budget picture by now is clearer because the state has passed its own spending plan; the consequences for schools are not as severe as expected earlier in the year, Fleu said.

The district was able to increase the allocation to schools from $100 per student to $140 per student; each school’s council will decide how to spend the money.

The district will pay additional expenses from its contingency fund, which is money kept in the budget usually for unexpected expenses such as emergency repairs.

Projections show the fund dropping from $2.2 million to $1.5 million, which would be about 4.5 percent, according to Fleu. The state requires districts to keep at least 2 percent in the contingency fund.

The utility tax miscalculation was in the Marathon Petroleum account; the company was found to have overpaid in 2015-2016 and the district will have to refund $200,000.

The property tax refund, about $300,000, goes to a Bowling Green company. The overpayment was not the fault of the district but was probably the result of mistaken evaluation, according to Fleu. The refund will come out of the current year’s collections.

The budget shows a projected $412,000 decrease in property and motor vehicle taxes.

The per-pupil state funding increase, called SEEK, is projected to be about $183,000.

Based on the current numbers, the district should be able to hold off seeking property tax increases, board chairman Bob Green said. “It seems like a very workable budget. The district has done a good job of keeping its finances under control,” he said.

Drawing on the contingency is a temporary fix, but the hoped-for influx of new businesses, including Braidy Industries, is likely to bring new revenue, he said.

School boards have the yearly option of raising property taxes by up to 4 percent in August. That probably won’t be needed this year, but if the bottom line doesn’t improve, the board may have to consider it for the following year, he said.

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