The Mehlville school board voted 4-2 Tuesday to pass the 2011-2012 budget with a slight $55,000 deficit. Board members Mark Stoner and Rich Franz voted in opposition.
Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch presented the proposed budget to the board after adjusting numbers from the .
“We’re presenting … a break-even budget for next year,” Knobloch said. “The numbers have changed slightly since May, but the net result is approximately the same. I’ve increased revenue a little bit based on (additional) sales tax revenue.”
The new budget calls for $100,115,000 in total revenue and $100,170,000 in expenditures, leaving the district with an approximate 16 to 16.5 percent reserve balance at the end of the 2011-2012 school year and an estimated blended tax rate of 3.6198.
Knobloch said revenues were expected to decrease because of the loss of federal stimulus funds and recoupment of taxes. The 2011-2012 budget predicts a $2,685,000 decrease in revenues from this year’s projected budget. The district will get about $1,565,000 less in local taxes, $505,000 more from the state, and $1,685,000 less from the federal level.
Along with a salary freeze, the district has reorganized, retired or eliminated four administrative positions, 10 certified positions (pending final schedule completions) and 15 classified positions. The district is spending $76,247,000 on salary and benefits, a combined 76 percent of the budget.
“We’ve had decreases in our total salaries, but a small increase in benefits kept most of the other areas flat with the current year,” Knobloch said. “We cut back on capital expenses and those results get us close to a break-even number.”
The increase in benefits comes from a 5 percent projected raise in health care premiums and a .5 percent increase in teacher retirement contribution.
Contribution increased from 14 to 14.5 percent, with another half percent raise to come in the 2012-2013 school year. The .5 percent increase equals to approximately $250,000 without salary increases. The state legislature sets that rate based on an analysis of the state plan as a whole.
Aside from increased costs, the district is cutting back capital expenses by one-third of the current year’s budget.
Officials have been working on the budget for the last six months and based projections on a conservative outlook.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty concerning revenue growth in 2013 and beyond,” Knobloch stated in the budget. “Without additional revenues, increases in operational and capital expenditures will need to be controlled. Reductions will be much more difficult to identify each year.”
Editor's Note: Check back for a more in-depth look at the budget as well as other decisions made at Tuesday's board meeting.