Raises ahead for Fayette teachers

Following years of decline, BoE’s budget expected to go up by $4.2 million

Things are looking up for the Fayette County School System — up as in more money coming in that can be used for pay raises.

The Board of Education on May 5 got a preliminary look at the FY 2014-2015 budget that shows revenues beginning to edge up. The tentative budget preview showed total revenues of $167.5 million, a $4.2 million increase over the current year.

The total budget proposed at $169.3 million will use $1.7 million in available fund balance while maintaining more than $19 million in fund balance and reserves.

Assistant Superintendent Tom Gray provided a breakdown of the revenue side showing a $1.1 million increase in state funds to $85.2 million. On the local revenue side, property taxes look to increase to $71 million, up $2.1 million.

That amount could increase given that the budget, which is conservative in nature, is calculated on a flat tax digest. Preliminary figures from the Fayette County Tax Assessor are showing what could amount to an increase of 3 percent or more in the 2014 tax digest.

Revenue from auto tags is expected to increase slightly, from approximately $8 million in the current budget to $8.5 million in FY 2015.

On the expense side, the tentative budget includes a 1.5 percent pay increase for all employees on pre-set salary scales, a step increase for classified employees with at least five years of service, the addition of 39 parapros and other more minor expenses.

The tentative $169.298 million in expenses is offset by anticipated revenues totaling $167.6, a difference of $1.74 million. The proposed budget includes a $4.8 million fund balance, with Gray recommending that $1.74 million of that amount be allocated for expenses, leaving a FY 2015 ending fund balance of $3.06 million.

At first glance it might appear that the school board might be cutting things close fiscally. But that is not the case since the board last year finally had the votes to establish a reserve fund totaling 10 percent of expenses.

That amount, or $16.3 million, is still in reserve and was not a part of the calculations Gray provided.

Gray said the tentative budget will be presented at the school board’s May 19 meeting in time for adoption in June.