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Fiscal Year 2017 budget provided to U-46 Board


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 was presented with the Fiscal Year 2017 tentative budget which currently has revenues at $509 million and expenditures at $513.2 million and a $4.2 million deficit, at its meeting on Monday, June 20.
  The expenditures are an increase of $5.6 million from FY 2016’s $507.6 million, and revenues are expected to increase by $15 million.
  The presentation came before a recent stopgap budget was passed by the Illinois General Assembly that was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday, June 30, which increases the state’s funding of education.
  Dale Burnidge, director of Financial Operations, said some of the unknown factors in the budget include a possible property tax freeze coming from the state and pension reform that could shift the cost to school districts, which U-46 said could cost it up to $18 million a year.
  The district’s added spending comes largely from salaries and benefits, representing 71 percent of the budget, as it rises from $351.7 million to $364.7 million, a $13 million increase, for annual contractual increases, as well as additional staff from 54 new teachers to accommodate Full-Day Kindergarten to added social workers and administrative support for large elementary schools. Health insurance costs are expected to increase by 5 percent and other benefits (pension, Medicare, Social Security) will increase commensurate to salary increases.
  The added costs come despite enrollment not expecting to increase as board member Phil Costello asked: “Other than the increase in Full-Day Kindergarten, any other assumptions about” enrollment?
  “Our assumption’s flat,” said Burnidge.
  Board member Sue Kerr later asked if staffing standards would remain the same, which Burnidge said they would.
  The district plans to spend $10 million on capital projects through working cash funds and is planning $4 million in contingency.
  The working cash funds to be used for capital projects would come from the $40 million bond issued in early 2015. Kerr asked how much of that bond remained, which Burnidge said “about $17 million.”
  For expenditures by fund, education will remain the largest portion making up 75 percent of the budget, up from 73 percent in FY 2016, while transportation will dip from 7 percent of the budget to 5 percent. Burnidge said the dip in the transportation portion is “due to the bus purchase” made last year.
  Spending on capital outlay is expected to drop by $6.5 million, from $33.2 million to $26.7 million, which Burnidge said is also “due to the bus purchases.” There’s also an expected combined $1.6 million drop in spending for purchased services as well as supplies and materials.
  On the revenue side, assumptions are that there will be no tax levy increase for the 2016 tax year (paid in 2017) and that the district will receive all four categorical payments from the state. In recent years, the state has only budgeted three categorical payments.
  On the property tax extension history, Burnidge said “you can see that there’s been very little growth” the past three years “due to the low Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, and then also due to the abatement last year.”
  The district’s numbers show the total extension growing from $281.7 million in 2010 to $304.1 million in 2015. The biggest bump was a $15 million increase from 2011 to 2012, and the extension has risen by $8.3 million since then.
  For revenue by fund, Burnidge said “these percentages that we’re budgeting for FY17 are the same as FY16” with the education fund making up the largest portion at 75 percent.
  By source, property taxes will again make up the largest portion of revenues but will take up a slightly smaller portion from FY 2016 due to added state funds.
  “Since we’ve added that fourth categorical payment it reduces the property tax percentage from 62 percent down to 60 while our state aid as well as other state revenue increase by 1 percent,” Burnidge said.
  The largest expected revenue increase comes from categorical payments at $9.7 million (from $28.9 million to $38.7 million) and General State Aid is expected to grow by $5.3 million to $118.2 million for FY 2017. The only expected decrease comes from local funding sources from $16.8 million down to $16.4 million.
  In the summary of all funds, the beginning fund balance is expected to drop from $215.6 million to $211.4 million. The operating fund balance is expected to increase from $88.1 million to $88.7 million, all other non-capital project funds (tort, IMRF/Social Security, working cash, debt service) balance would drop from $124.4 million to $119.6 million and the capital projects fund balance would remain flat at $3.1 million.
  On the district’s five-year forecast, the total of all funds, not including debt service or life safety funds, the fiscal year ending balance has increased from $84.8 million in 2011 to a peak of $195.4 million in 2015, but it is expected to steadily drop down to $124.2 million in 2021.
  A board Finance Committee meeting will be held on Monday, Aug. 1 and the final budget is expected to be presented on Monday, Aug. 15.
  The FY 2016 budget was approved by a 4-3 vote with Costello, Cody Holt and Jeanette Ward voting no. Veronica Noland voted for that budget, her first yes vote on a U-46 budget over three budget votes.

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