Mon BOE Budget Includes $1K Pay Raises
Monongalia County Board of Education members unanimously forwarded a $102 million budget Monday that includes $1,000 pay raises for all employees in the school system.
The budget represents a more than 7 percent increase over last year's $95 million budget. That spike is accounted for through an increased tax base and a jump in state funding, School Board Treasurer Terry Hawkins said during a presentation Monday.
Employees received a $600 last year and were scheduled to receive another $600 this year, but school officials said they had enough money to provide a $1,000 boost.
About 80 percent of the $102,060,500 budget goes toward salaries and benefits for employees. That's down from near 85 percent several years ago, Hawkins said.
About 13 percent, or $12.8 million, of the budget will go toward operation and maintenance of facilities, which includes utility costs. A significant portion of that money will go toward improvements at athletic fields and the new Eastwood Elementary being constructed at the corner of W.Va. 705 and Mileground Road.
Student transportation accounts for about $8 million, or 7.86 percent, of the budget.
Hawkins projected that about $49 million of the $102 million budget would come from taxes. Of that amount, $25 million would come from the regular levy, and $23 million from the excess levy he said. That's a $4.4 million, or 10 percent, increase over last year's budget.
Board member Nancy Walker expressed some concern about revenue projections. Because of problems with reassessments in Monongalia County, Walker wondered whether the School Board could accurately project its revenue stream.
County commissioners plan to finalize all assessments by October. If revenues are far below what was expected, board members will have to make cuts, Hawkins said.
Superintendent Frank Devono said he's worried about possible federal cuts to education. At this point, it's unclear whether Congress will slash funding, but it's possible education will be on the chopping block.
"Federal funding is going to shrink," Board President Barbara Parson said.
Federal dollars account for only about $750,000 of the general expense fund, but mke up nearly $10 million of a special revenue fund that pays for programs like child food program. Federal cuts could also hurt state and local funding, Devono said.
Any federal cuts will occur in the fall, well after the BOE has approved its budget. That means board members have to guess whether federal funding will be in place for certain positions and programs, Devono said. Once the board approves a budget and commits to having an employee or program for the fiscal year, members cannot rescind that decision, he said.
The state is providing nearly $50 million for the general fund budget, including $37 million from the state aid formula, $8 million for a PEIA allocation and $4.6 million for retirement allocation.
About $2.4 million will go toward paying for other post-employment benefits, or promised health benefits for future retirees. The school board is on a pay-as-you-go system.
The special revenue fund, which is separate from the general revenue fund, comprises money that is legally restricted to specified expenditures. Much of the $18 million in that fund comes from grants.
Now that board members have forwarded the budget, the BOE will have to publish the budget online and in the newspaper for 10 days. At that point, the BOE will hold a public hearing and officially approve the budget. The state Tax Department will have to approve the budget by May 22.
Hawkins said he doesn't expect any major problems in getting the budget finalized later this month.
"It's a pretty nice increase, but it's not huge," Hawkins said.