Danville schools budget envisions surplus
DANVILLE — The Danville school district would end this new fiscal year in the black, according to a preliminary spending plan that will be unveiled at Wednesday's school board meeting.
The proposed budget, which covers July 1 through June 30, 2014, shows the district would take in about $64.55 million in revenue and spend about $64.43 million — not including about $6.2 million in bonds that will be spent to finish the East Park Elementary School renovation — leaving a surplus of $119,124. Under that scenario, the district would have an ending fund balance of about $20.65 million.
"It's a small surplus," Business and Finance Director Heather Smith said Monday. "But this is still going to be a very tight year. We're going to have to watch everything pretty closely."
Danville school board members will vote on whether to put the proposal on display for 30 days. Then they will vote on whether to adopt it in September.
Under the plan, the education fund — which pays for day-to-day expenses and most salaries — would take in about $49.58 million in revenue and spend about $49.03 million, leaving a $554,394 surplus.
Smith anticipates receiving about $31.8 million state funding, which makes up nearly 50 percent of the district's revenue. That includes about $26.75 million in general state aid, which is about $729,000 more than last year.
"We're very grateful. But I don't want to lose sight of the fact that we're still not getting what we should be getting," Smith said, pointing out the district should be getting another $3.4 million on top of that.
Smith said the slight bump in general state aid and corporate replacement tax revenue will help offset a projected $918,000 decrease in property tax revenue. The district anticipates raising about $21.7 million — about 33.7 percent of its revenue — from local funding sources, which include corporate replacement taxes, miscellaneous fees and interest.
And the district anticipates receiving about $11 million, or a little more than 17 percent of its revenue, from federal funding.
Last year's budget projected a $2.4 million deficit. However, Smith said it ended with a $52,000 surplus because the state came through with a third-quarter categorical payment the district was used to receiving the following year and state grants, totaling about $1.5 million. The district also received an additional $448,000 in corporate replacement tax revenue and didn't spend as much on travel and supplies and salaries and benefits than it had allowed for.
"We pretty much broke even," Smith said.
This year, Smith anticipates some of the same problems as in recent years. High on the list are late or no state payments for transportation and dwindling reserves for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and the tort fund.
The transportation fund started the year with a $265,497. Smith said the district has to transfer state aid and corporate replacement tax money to operate.
The IMRF/Social Security fund projects a $132,623 deficit, while the tort fund projects a $333,270 deficit. The IMRF/Social Security has a reserve of more than $1 million, while the tort fund has a reserve of $680,694.
But Smith worries those reserves will be run down steadily and become depleted if something isn't done to increase revenue in the future. During last year's property tax levy discussion, administrators proposed raising the tax rate from $5.03 per $100 of assessed valuation to about $5.19 per $100 because of an anticipated 5.4 percent decrease in property values throughout the district.
Board members voted 4-3 to adopt a levy with a rate of $5.07 per $100 of assessed valuation, saying it would be too heavy of a burden on property owners.
At the meeting, Smith is requesting to transfer funds from working cash to the IMRF/Social Security fund until the district receives its first property tax revenue payment.
"I don't have any money for the first few payrolls," she said. "I've got to borrow the money from somewhere temporarily."