ROCK SPRINGS — The Sweetwater County School District Board of Trustees passed an $87,185,137 General Fund expenditure budget for the 2018-2019 school year at their Wednesday evening meeting.
The budget passed unanimously among trustees present as part of the Consent Agenda, following a pre-meeting workshop and a budget hearing to provide the community an opportunity for comment. There were no public comments at the budget hearing.
The total budget, including cash reserves of $8,157,205, amounted to $95,342,342 for the upcoming academic year.
Chairman Lenny Hay and trustees Paul Kauchich, Carol Jelaco, Max Mickelson and Stephanie Thompson attended the board meeting. Trustees Neil Kourbelas and Emma Waldner were absent. Superintendent Kelly McGovern likewise attended the meeting.
56% of Budget Comes from Property Taxes
During the workshop, District Chief Financial Officer Scot Duncan laid out the details of the budget. Most of the money which the District receives—56%– comes from property taxes by way of the county treasurer.
The District receives $14,607.92 per Average Daily Membership of students. The District starts receiving funding for the next school year in August, some 25% of the total. There is a cash carryover of $3,245,387 for the 2018-2019 school year.
“That helps us get through July and August,” Duncan said.
The cash carryover for 2017-2018 was $1,348,930. Two years ago, for 2016-2017, the cash carryover amounted to $5,423,737.
80.97% of New Budget Goes to Salaries & Benefits
For the new budget, 80.97% of the money will go toward salaries and benefits; another 8.37% will be spent on supplies and materials; 6.94% will be used to purchase various services; .93% will be for capital outlay; with the remainder to be spent on other items.
The Capital Projects Fund contains $5,648,500, some of which will be spent on emergency generators to promote school safety. There is also a five-year technology plan to support instruction and operations. Some of the older school buses will need to be replaced, at a cost of around $2 million.
Duncan went over several of the ways in which the District has striven to save money, including a transportation funding freeze, adjusted school start times, and the closure of Lincoln School for “re-purposing”.
In going over the report, Duncan commented, “One of my favorite pages is Page 10, the Debt Service Fund, which is zero, because we have no debt.”
There is a total General Fund cash carryover of $11,402,592, which Duncan’s Budget Message states, “…is a direct result of reduced spending, specifically in unfilled employee positions, fuel, and special education placements. The District’s Insurance Fund experienced a 10.76% decrease in total claims over the prior fiscal year.”
Some of the cash on hand money, the $3,245,387, is being used to balance the budget. Another $5,157,205 is reserved for future expenditures.
The District has also taken steps in recent years to redesign the Health Care Benefits Plan, including offering a new Supplemental plan for Medicare eligible retirees, adding three new health plan options, eliminating the $400 PPO Health Insurance option, and establishing a stabilization reserve for premiums.
Pupil Activity Fund monies for 2018-2019 will total $701,100.
Mill levies received board authorization for the Sweetwater Board of Cooperative Education Services (.5 mill) in the amount of $678,083 and $271,233 for Region V BOCES (.2 mill). The SCSD No. 1 Recreation Board is slated to get $1,356,167 (1.0 mill).
Total school district levies amounted to 26.7 mills.