School Board Gets Update on Budget Surplus

HAMPSTEAD – George Stokinger, Business Administrator for School Administrative Unit (SAU) 55, gave the Hampstead School Board an update on the status of its budget. He said the school district has a favorable budget variance of $992,710, with $51,745 in favorable revenue variances, bringing the present total to $1,044,455. The budget variances that produced this surplus amount came from the following:

• $150,000 from salaries – turnover and open positions.
• $190,000 from benefits – insurance savings and workers’ compensation holiday.
• $40,600 from Transportation – fewer placements.
• $270,800 Regular Education Tuition – lower enrollment.
• $315,000 Special Education Enrollment – fewer placements.
• $60,000 Utilities – favorable pricing.
• $30,000 – other.

Two areas where costs exceed budget line are the $22,150 used for engineering costs for the proposed new second access road for Hampstead Middle School, and $41,000 used for security upgrades to the schools following the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.

The revenue side has a $15,600 favorable revenue amount from tuition payments and $66,145 from Catastrophic Aid money, as well as a loss of $30,000 on Medicaid reimbursements. Stokinger had estimated during the budgeting process that there would be a surplus of roughly $1,050,000. He told the board that the current $1,044,445, with the $75,000 Capital Reserve withholding subtracted, as approved by the voters, would leave a projected surplus of $969,455. He said it is possible this number will grow.

He noted that while the budget increased 0.95 percent, the impact on the tax rate would be 5.12 percent. The school district budget had a 38 cent tax impact per $1,000 of assessed property value for 2013. This will increase to 90 cents for 2014.

The new law allows the school board to retain up to 2.5 percent of the surplus as Fund Balance Retention.
“I see no need to rush into it,” Stokinger said. “Given the pressures on the tax rate, I personally would recommend considering putting it off for another year.”

The board was reminded that the taxpayers will be facing the cost of the new Police Station on their first tax bill. Chairwoman Natalie Gallo said the board had a couple more meetings to consider Fund Balance Retention, and no action was taken.

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