At Monday night’s Board of Ed meeting, Dr. Fishbein presented the first look at what he called the “top down” or preliminary budget for 2011-12. This is the starting point for crafting the actual budget, the process for which will culminate in the budget vote on April 27. Basically, the preliminary budget takes the large categories and projects the increases, if any, we can expect, based on everything (staffing, programs, enrollment, etc.) remaining as it is now. Then it projects an expected increase in revenues (including the property tax levy that makes up the majority of our income).
The preliminary budget as presented the other night will be posted to the website soon, and I’ll provide the link when it’s there. But I’ll share a few of the highlights here.
The largest increases in expenses are projected to be:
RAA (Administrators’ Salaries) 3.6% (per their contract)
Workers Comp 5%
Health Benefits 12%
Liability, Property, Casualty Insurance 5%
Most other expenses were projected at 2% increase. The line for REA (teachers' and secretaries' salaries) is posted at 0% right now, as there is not yet a contract for 2011-14.
These increases are things we already know about (and can’t do much about). For example, the increases in PERS (pension contribution) and Workers Comp come from the state. Increases in Tuitions (the tuitions we must pay for Ridgewood students who are educated in other districts, often for Special Ed) are set by the state. Insurance increases are projected by our broker based on our actual health history.
In terms of revenue, the only line projected to increase was the Local Tax Levy at 2% (which is the maximum allowable according to current state law). We kept the categorical state aid line at 0...no reason to expect that to change.
Bottom line, if we calculate the increase in expenses over which we don’t have control (without changing program, staff, etc.), and the maximum increase we’re allowed in revenue, the District will face a $655,191 deficit, just to break even. That is, we would need to come up with $655,691 in cuts. Any increase in the teachers' salary line would require additional budget cuts.
It will now be up to the administration to come up with recommendations for how to balance the budget. I think we'll see the first recommendation at the February 24 BOE meeting.
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