School budget does not include a tax increase |

School budget does not include a tax increase

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The Park City Board of Education approved a general operating budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

The budget talks this year had a rosier outcome than district officials had expected. Last year, they cut more than $2 million from the district’s spending plan.

"We made significant cuts last year in anticipation of additional cuts coming this year," Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy said in a telephone interview. "Those cuts were nowhere near to the degree that we thought they were going to be, and it wasn’t necessary for us to cut to the same degree that we did last year."

There will be no layoffs, he said.

"We were anticipating having to have major layoffs and major reductions, and we didn’t have to do that," Timothy said. "Through attrition we have absorbed several positions that we are not filling."

With student enrollment decreasing, officials cut seven teaching positions and seven aides, which reduced personnel costs by about $767,000.

"We were able to take that money and then use it in other directions," Timothy said.

Still, the budget includes nearly $2 million in increases in pay and benefits for the district’s licensed employees.

The budget next year anticipates more than $43 million in spending, but it predicts less than $41 million in revenue. Officials dipped into the district’s reserve fund to help make up the budget shortfall.

"I’m pleased with the results of it, but it is always changing," said Lisa Kirchenheiter, a member of the Park City Board of Education. "As soon as we approve it, we need to start making adjustments or looking toward the next budget. It’s never a done deal."

Overall, spending next year is expected to increase by about $1.3 million, or roughly 3 percent, compared to the budget approved in 2009.

Next year’s spending plan does not include a tax increase. But property values in Summit County have declined.

"We actually had a drop of $2 billion in the assessed value," Timothy said. "That is a huge drop, and in turn, our revenues will drop accordingly."

The district receives much of its funding from property tax and information about the decrease in value was not received until after board members approved the budget June 15, he explained.

"We will modify the budget as needed," Timothy said. "We’ll move forward with the budget that was adopted by the board and then we’ll have to make changes to the budget."

Officials are also bracing for the impact of a new charter school, which is set to open in the Park City area in August. The charter school is public and parents will not pay tuition because the school uses monies that are earmarked for public schools their children would normally attend.

Many students will leave the Park City School District to attend the charter school and the district will lose a share of its tax revenue each time a student transfers. But the district will not begin losing its funding to the charter school until the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The budget approval this month helped cap weeks of salary negotiations with the district’s employee groups.

The district’s budget last year included more than $2 million in cuts. About 7 teaching positions were eliminated.