District budget looking strong | ParkRecord.com

District budget looking strong

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

For the first time in a year, the Park City School District budget is showing signs of recovery. Patty Murphy the business administrator for the district, presented the current budget at the district Board meeting of May 22.

Murphy said recent, positive results from district belt-tightening, a windfall resulting from the reappraisal of property values on Main Street, and the reduction in teachers to compensate for the anticipated loss in students next year will positively impact the 2007-08 budget.

The ‘rainy-day-fund,’ or undesignated fund balance dwindled during the school year as ongoing expenses ate up reserves, and was expected to fall to $419,000 by the end of the school year in June. Instead, Murphy projected $2.2 million in the coffers before the new budget takes effect. "This is about where it ought to be as a minimum," Murphy said.

Murphy said the belt tightening by the district resulted in a savings of almost $1.5 million.

"We also had a bit of good news, Murphy said. "The property tax revenue came in higher than anticipated with the reassessment of Main Street" The windfall resulted in $764,000 additional dollars to the district.

Murphy said that next year the district is expecting a one percent decrease in enrollment, or about 40 to 50 students. Teacher staffing was being adjusted accordingly, mostly through attrition, to bring the ratio of students to the district approved ratio of 23 to 1.

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Board member David Chaplin asked Murphy during the board meeting if the positive changes could be expected to continue for the next few budgets.

"The long term picture?" Murphy asked. "I think we’re in good shape this year. But I’m confident we’re not going to see the $1 billion increased assessed valuation we had this year.

Employee contracts have yet to be negotiated, which will be pivotal before a final budget is submitted in June.

At that time the board will decide whether there is a need to raise property taxes through a Truth in Taxation hearing in August. While raising the voted leeway could result in additional budget funds, there is a cap on the tax rate, set by the state legislature, which cannot be exceeded.

Regardless, as the school year winds down, the district budget has rebounded with hard work and a little bit of luck.

Said Chaplin near the end of the meeting, "We have to compliment our staff for turning this around. I am very, very, very pleased.