Fayette BoE OKs spending $3.5 million more than it takes in

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Marchman warns about ‘drastically increasing our spending without any increase in student population’

The Fayette County Board of Education on June 29 unanimously adopted a $184 million budget for FY 2016 that includes 118 new job positions and 2 percent employee raises.

Budget expenditures exceed expected income by nearly $3.5 million — $183,970,000 in expenses versus revenues of $180,508,649 for the period beginning July 1. Aside from the 10 percent reserve that totals $18.4 million, $3.46 million of the June 30 fund balance of $8.63 million will be used to balance the budget.

The vote to adopt the budget was 5-0, though board member Barry Marchman made a number of comments prior to the vote.

“I have voiced my objections in recent meetings,” Marchman said. “I support giving teachers a raise and I support adding back some building staff, and maybe even some teachers and parapros where needed. But it is my opinion that before we spend more than we take in, we need to make choices. I will restate my concern that we are drastically increasing our spending without any increase in student population. I will restate my concern that we are planning to spend more money that we will take in next year and I will restate my concern that the people we hire today will have to be let go in two to three years if our optimistic projections do not materialize.”

As approved, the new budget comes with 118 new job positions with a budget impact of approximately $6.85 million. Of those, 85.5 jobs are classroom teachers and parapros, 24.5 are school support staff such as office clerical positions and assistant principals, eight are district level support staff in technology and central office. The new budget includes adding three assistant principals and one clerical position at the high school level.

Payroll changes in the budget included a 2 percent salary increase for all employees, $1.2 million in step increases for certified staff such as teachers, $400,000 for a step increase for classified staff such as parapros and secretaries, an increase of $2.2 million in the teachers retirement system and a $450,000 increase in the health insurance rate for classified employees.

Personnel costs represent 89 percent of the budget.

The budget shows general fund revenues increasing $12.9 million to a projected $180.5 million. Fayette County’s tax digest increased 10 percent this year, with local property tax revenues expected to show a $7.8 million increase over last year.

The school system will also see an increase of $4.4 million in state funds that will bring state dollars for FY 2016 to $89.5 million.

The millage rate, expected to remain at the state maximum of 20 mills, will be adopted no later than August.