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Budget browsing

By Staff | Jul 16, 2010

The preliminary 2010-11 Rugby School District budget reflects about a $460,000 deficit, but the devil is in the details, they say.

The district has about $400,000 in one-time federal stimulus grant funds which must show up as expenditures, and that is the reason the deficit looks steep.

“It’s more of a $70,000 deficit in terms of “real dollars” once you take out those grant funds,’ says Jeff Lind, school superintendent. “That leaves us with essentially a balanced budget.”

The district received the stimulus funds two years ago and it initially boosted the revenue side of the budget. Since those funds have now been dedicated toward the Ely Elementary window replacement and electric wiring installation throughout the building, they are shown as expenses.

Lind will review the proposed budget at the Rugby School Board’s annual meeting this Tuesday, July 20 at 7 p.m. in the Jr.-Sr. High library.

This 2010-11 general budget is calling for about $6 million in general fund expenditures which is about a 30 percent increase in spending since Lind first started as superintendent nine years ago.

Seventy percent of expenses is tied to salary for teachers, administrators and support staff.

Proposed expenditures are up this year as a result of the aforementioned Ely improvement project as well as an increase in payroll as well as the addition of a new student performance and additional special education aides. The budget also includes a salary for a speech therapist. However, the position could be contracted by Lone Tree Special Education.

Revenues are expected to increase due in part to an anticipated jump in local taxable valuations. Lind said an increase of about 12 percent is expected in residential, commercial and agriculture valuations. The district will also see some added tax revenue from the completed wind farm north of Rugby. Other revenue comes through state per-pupil payments and federal Title programs.

For the second year in a row, the local funding share is dropping significantly as the state is picking up 75 mills of the general levy with the remaining 110 covered through local taxes. In addition, five mills for technology; five for building; and 1.5 to cover special assessments for street and sidewalk improvements are levied.

While a deficit is expected, the district will begin the new year with a cash reserve of about $1.6 million, Lind said, and the past several years the district has underspend its budget.

Overall, the district’s financial picture has been rosy, in large part to the forward thinking of past administrators and board members, who made good fiscal decisions. Enrollment figures that have remained relatively stable in recent years have also helped keep revenues on pace with rising expenditures.

At the meeting, the board could give a first passing of the budget which is not set in stone, but rather a forecast for the district in terms of expenditures and revenues. While some expenditures are set, such as payroll, others are not, including heating and fuel expenses.

However, the board has the authority to amend the budget throughout the year.

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