Leader Blues

Monday, June 25, 2007

TOP STORY >>Approval given for district's budget

IN SHORT: Cabot school officials make a “best guess” at their spending next year.

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Although it’s only a guess, the Cabot School District approved a $76.7 million state-required budget of expenses for the 2008-09 fiscal year Tuesday night during the school board meeting.

According to district comptroller Kelly Hayes, the total estimate is his “best guess” considering current expenditures.
“The only item that is not subject to change is the bonded debt payment,” Hayes said.

The two-year out budget includes $35.5 million for salaries, $12.5 million for instructional expenses, $5.75 million for maintenance and operation expenses, $3.3 million for student transportation, $6.5 million for other operating expenses, $175,000 for non-bonded debt payment, $3 million for bonded debt payment and $10 million for building fund expenses.

Superintendent Dr. Tony Thur-man said the $6.5 million for “other operating expenses” would include such items as professional development expenses, administrative expenses and certain types of technology, curriculum, library and media expenses.

For comparison, according to the district’s annual financial report, Cabot spent $29.3 million for salaries during the 2005-06 year and $31.16 million was spent on salaries this past year. The proposed budget has increased the salary amount by about $4 million.

In the 2005-06 school year, Cabot’s operating expenditures were $21.98 million and $24.57 million in 2006-07. Adding the amounts proposed for 2008-09 for instructional, maintenance and operation, student transportation and other operating expenses, the total is $28.05 million, an increase for total operating expenses of almost $3.5 million.

The building fund expenses were $13.08 million in 2005-06 and $8.65 million in 2006-07. The new budget increases that amount by $1.35 million.

At the end of the 2006-07 school year, the district still had $3.4 million in the bank to start the coming school year. There will be less for 2007-08 school year, but exactly how much less is not known.

“Considering the fire (at Cabot Junior High North on Aug. 10), it’s not as bad as it could have been,” Thurman said.

The budget was prepared with a supporting total tax rate (state and local) of 36 mills on the dollar of the assessed value of taxable property located in the Cabot School District.

The tax, which has not changed from last year, includes a uniform rate of 25 mills to be collected on all taxable property in the state to be used solely for maintenance and operations of Cabot schools.

The other 11 mills will be used as a continuing debt service tax pledged for the retirement of existing bonded indebtedness, as previously voted on by residents.

Any surplus revenues produced by the debt service millage may be used by the district for other purposes. The fiscal year budget, it will begin July 1, 2008 and end June 30, 2009.