Minooka High takes steps to shrink deficit
By Kris Stadalsky For The Herald-News September 25, 2012 9:26AM
Updated: November 1, 2012 6:11AM
MINOOKA — Because of a plan devised and carried out by the Minooka High School Board, finance committee and administrators, the district has been able to shave this year’s deficit by $2.2 million.
A December budget review indicated the district’s 2012-13 budget would end up with a $3.3 million deficit if nothing were done, Business Manager Todd Drafall said during a public hearing on the budget last week.
“We looked at a variety of areas to reduce,” Drafall said “We came up with a plan in January to reduce that by $2.2 million.”
Some items were increased, such as fees for registration and student parking permits, while staff members found ways to cut their expenditures.
The district sought $580,000 in state and federal grant funds to pay for infrastructure upgrades, educational programs and professional development that will not have an impact on local resources.
“The prioritization of resources in our reduction plan was worked at the department level with teachers,” Drafall said. “We tried to find ways to reduce expenditures where they didn’t impact students.”
A bond refinancing in August brought the district $11 million in proceeds over the life of the bonds. It was done to take advantage of lower interest rates and thereby decreasing some long-term debt, but it also allowed the district to honor its goal of keeping its tax rate at 2.34, Drafall said.
A 7 percent decrease in property tax revenue for 2012 had a negative impact on the district and projections estimate an additional drop of 6 percent for 2013.
The district relies on property taxes for 65 percent of revenue, with 39 percent coming from residential.
There was some good news on the real estate end, said Drafall.
“Seven million in new properties is coming online for the first time in a long time,” he said.
Some one-time increases in revenue are in this year’s budget, due to the district’s decentralization from the Grundy County Special Education Cooperative. At the same time, the district is paying salaries and benefits to the teachers now working directly for the district. Special education grant money offsets the expenses.
Minooka High has been moved from the state designation of alternative funding to foundation level due to continued student growth, which will bring an increase in general state aid this year.
The budget’s beginning balance is $23,145,593. Overall revenue is anticipated at $48,993,198 and expenses at $48,308,488. The ending balance for 2013 is projected at $23,830,303.
Whether or not the budget ends the school year in the red or black could be dependent on LyondellBasell, which the district is working with on a tax settlement.
The Netherlands based company, located in Morris, owes several years in back taxes due to a bankruptcy claim. If the district is repaid 70 percent of the 2008 and 2009 taxes it is owed, the budget will be $1.6 million in the black at the end of next school year, Drafall said.
If the money doesn’t come in during this fiscal year, there will be a $700,000 deficit.