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School board passes preliminary budget
in Seneca
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The Seneca School District 2014-15 Budget will probably be very similar to last year’s budget based on the preliminary budget approved by the school board at their meeting on Monday night.

In fact, if this budget is approved at the annual meeting and state aid comes in as projected and the equalized value of property is the same as the projection provided by the state in July, the tax levy would increase by just .12 percent or about $230 dollars.

Seneca District Administrator Dave Boland began the budget discussion with a review of last year’s budget. He noted there were some adjustments made to the 2013-2014 budget based on grants and expenditures that were not anticipated.

In answer to a question from board member Larry Kelley, Boland explained that an expenditure of $35,551 listed as furnishings was actually for the purchase of Chromebook computers, which are coded as furnishings for accounting purposes.

Boland provided several other explanations of specific items board members questioned. He noted that special education budget actually finished with a $34,543 surplus because budgeted money was not expended on anticipated expenses.

In Fund 50, the lunch program budget, higher than expected revenues meant the fund finished with a positive balance.

The final figures for the 2013-14 budget, which concluded on June 30, 2014 showed an ending fund balance of $1,424,961. This represents close to 40 percent of the entire budget. Boland noted that is not unusual for the smaller school districts to have their fund balances represent a larger percentage of their budget.

The purpose of the fund balance is to be able to pay for unbudgeted expenses that might arise during the school year and to bridge gaps in paying for expenses before receiving revenues without having to borrow money. This saves expenses on interest.

Seneca’s 2013-14 budget had a total revenue of $3,898,821 and total expenses of $3,943,233, which resulted in a deficit of over $44,000. The budget had anticipated a deficit of about $25,000. The deficit was covered by money from the district’s fund balance.

The school board went on to approve a preliminary 2014-15 budget with proposed revenue of $3,925,506 and proposed expenditures of $3,949,665, which would result in a deficit of $24,159. The preliminary budget is based on the predicted equalized property value of the district and the predicted amount of state aid. The preliminary budget as proposed would result in a net tax levy increase of just $230 or a little more than .12 percent increase.

Boland then reviewed the allowable taxable revenue limit, which is $1,863,000. The proposed tax levy of $1,558,035 is under levying the district by $285,919, the district administrator explained. Additionally, the district must make an annual payment of $42,696 for an unfunded liability, which relates to the conversion of some pensions in the 90s to the state-funded and administered pension fund.

If the numbers in the proposed preliminary budget are based on the accurate estimate of state aid and equalized property values, it would result in a mil rate of 11.43 or school taxes of $11.43 per $1,000 of equalized property value. A residential property worth $100,000 would be assessed $1,143 in school property taxes.

The board approved the preliminary budget as proposed and it will be presented at the Seneca School District Annual Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the school’s band room.

In other business, the Seneca School Board:

• selected Seneca Education Foundation President Frank McCormick  to receive the Monthly Recognition  Award honoring his service to the school and its students

• agreed to allow a student, who lives in the district and attends private school, to participate in middle school athletics

• heard a report from administrator Dave Boland on the status of a playground improvement project

• approved buying a slightly used floor stripper for the janitorial staff to use at a greatly reduced cost of $1,200

• approved hiring special ed teacher Abby Fotzler as the middle school boys basketball coach

• approved an employee to participate in the alternative benefits plan