No concerns were heard from the public during the Hazlehurst School District budget hearing.
State-appointed conservator James Reeves reports that the district anticipates a fund balance of about $250,000 at the end of the school term.
“That’s good since we’ve been told by the Governor’s office to prepare for cuts,” Reeves commented.
The school district has come a long way in restoring the fiscal stability of the school district since the state’s takeover.
“The easy cuts have been made,” Reeves said. “Now we have to take care of what we’re taking in, and live within our means.”
The district has taken on a 3 mill note which will mainly be used for building repairs district wide. Roof and air conditioning repairs are sorely needed. The bonds will be interest-free as part of the stimulus package, Reeves explained. Banks will receive a tax credit in place of the interest they are losing. The bond payments will be about $180,000 per year for 14 years.
“We’ll see how far the money goes and do as much repair as we can do,” Reeves said.
The budget for fiscal year 2009-2010 was approved August 11 by the conservator in a brief meeting at the district office. The details of the budget were gone over with members of the public during the annual budget hearing, as required by state law.
The budget projects total revenues of $19,297,933 and expenditures of $19,005,554.
Local revenues come from various sources including ad valorem taxes paid by the taxpayers, interest income earned at the banks, food sales at the cafeteria, and athletic event ticket sales. State revenues include homestead exemption reimbursement, Mississippi Adequate Education Program revenues, and a nursing grant. Federal revenues include such sources as the Title I grant, food service plate cost reimbursements, and federal special education grants. The school district also receives revenue from 16th Section lands such as leases and timber sales.
The district had two major deficit fund balances as of July 1, 2008, in the district maintenance fund and the food service fund. Both of these deficit fund balances had been cleared by July 1, 2009, one year later. One goal for 2009-2010 is to grow fund balances in these two areas by taking in more revenues than expenditures.
The district anticipates 1,433 students with per pupil expenditure of $9,881. This figure does not include interfund transfers, debt service or major capital improvements.
Title I basic program tentative allocation is set at $728,334 with estimated carryover of $297,068.
Total projected expenditures: $19,005,555. General operating fund revenues are budgeted at an amount $250,000 higher than expenditures, with the goal of increasing the fund balance of the general fund this fiscal year. The food service fund budgets $50,000 higher revenue than expenditures.
The formula under current law allows about $711,400 to be spent on administrative salaries and benefits. The current budget allots $347,652, which is $363,748 below the legal limit.
Local taxes include operational ad valorem and debt service ad valorem taxes. For operations, the school district is asking for a 4 percent increase, which should bring in about $95,000. For debt service the district needs $180,000, which will be used to service the first payment on the new three-mill note for building improvements.
Operational millage last year was 32.16 mills. No debt service mills were levied last year. One mill would affect a property owner with a house of a true value of $50,000 by a $5 increase in ad valorem taxes. Four total mills would raise the taxes $20.
The tax increase is required due to a reduction in state funding in 2008-2009 of over $250,000. A drop in enrollment caused a further reduction of over $460,000 in 2009-2010 state funding.
The building improvement loan is vital to ensuring the physical integrity of the school’s buildings, school officials pointed out. The interest-free loan will save the taxpayers millions of dollars in interest over the next 15 years.