Archived Story

Hartselle BOE approves budget

Published 12:25pm Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Hartselle City Board of Education passed a $31.7 million budget that will deplete its general fund reserves by $892,000.

The bottom line of the budget was a concern for board members. School Superintendent Vic Wilson said several factors that caused the budget problems included a budgeted $844,000 utility cost of the new high school, adding a technology budget of $280,000 and some much needed repairs at existing schools.

“We’re trying to drill down exactly what’s causing us to go over budget,” Wilson said during a budget hearing on Thursday. “The utilities at the new high school could be one of the factors. It could be that we’re having to make many one-time expenditures this year.”

Chief school financial officer Jonathan Craft said he anticipates that the school system will have more than three and two-thirds months of operating expenses at the end of the 2013-2014 budget cycle. School systems are required by the state to have at least one month of reserves.

“All of our numbers are extremely conservative at this point,” Craft said Thursday. “We’d rather give you the worst-case scenario up front.”

The general fund is expected to have $8.35 million in general fund reserves when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. That is a decrease of $1.24 million from a year ago.

Craft told board members Monday night that the majority of this year’s decrease was due an accounting issue. While doing the budget, Craft and interim CSFO Lisa McMurray determined that $1.1 million that will be used for debt service payments was placed in the general fund.

That money has since been moved out of the general fund and is reflected in the FY2013 ending balance.

At the end of next year, the general fund reserve is expected to fall $892,000 to $7.46 million.

Wilson told school board members that they will look for ways to cut costs across the board. He even suggested giving principals incentives for energy conservation to help reduce utility costs.

He also suggested finding additional sources of funding. One program was the Impact Aid program, which will give school systems money based on how many of the students’ parents work at Redstone Arsenal.

Wilson said it could add $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue.

Board member Jennifer Sittason said the system was denied funding from the program in the past.

“Right now, we’re exploring every option that we can,” Wilson said. “The worst thing they can tell us is ‘no.’”

The school system is expected to receive $31.4 million in total revenue, $23.3 million of which will be allocated for the general fund.

Total expenses are expected to be $31.8 million with $24.1 million allocated to come from the general fund.

When other fund sources and revenues are combined, the revenue deficiency rose to $892,000.

Randy Garrison contributed to this report.

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