School board will discuss budget at May 15 session

Shawn Hardy

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board is facing a preliminary 2017-18 general fund budget, including a $2 million deficit, that will require a lot of discussion before final adoption on June 15, according to Chief Financial Officer Jolinda “JC” Wilson, who presented the figures at Thursday night’s meeting.

The board will hold a public budget session at 6 p.m. Monday, May 15, in the high school library to talk about the spending plan which currently shows revenues of $37,514,315 and expenditures of $39,592,243 for a shortfall of $2,077,928. The deficit is consistent with what the board saw last year when creating the current year’s budget, Wilson said.

Wilson said the proposal contains flat funding and does not include additions that have been mentioned by the board, including technology upgrades. It also does not include salary increases for teachers, since the contract that expires Aug. 31 is in negotiations.

There also are assumptions based on the governor’s proposed budget, which has not yet been approved. These include a decrease in transportation funding of $30,000, an increase in basic education funding of $88,385 and an increase in special education funding of $27,991. Expenditures also include anticipated increases of $400,000 for the state pension fund, $200,000 for debt service and $80,000 for Franklin County Career and Technology Center tuition.

On May 15, there is “a lot we will hash through and many items that will take a lot of discussion,” Wilson said.

That will include how to bridge the budget gap. The documents Wilson presented include the impact of potential property tax increases. The current mill rate is 106.34 and with a collection rate of 96 percent, each mill means $197,000 in revenue for the district.

Using a homestead-farmstead formula that excludes businesses, Wilson calculated an average property value of $329,030 and presented a table with the potential impact of tax increases based on that figure. They range from $11.75 for a half-mill increase bring in $98,503 more to $82.22 for a 3.5-mill increase, the maximum the district is allowed, generating $689,519.

After the meeting, Wilson noted the district has $4.5 million in reserves and she does not think the deficit at the end of this fiscal year will be as high as anticipated.