FD estimates $52M budget for 2014-15 school year

The Fort Dodge Community School District approved its 2014-15 year budget estimate Monday.

The district anticipates having $52,710,435 in revenue and $52,706,065 in expenditures.

“That’s reflective of the needs of the district for this coming year,” Brandon Hansel, FDCSD director of financial services, said. “It’s significantly less than previous years because we expended all of our bond proceeds for the construction of the middle school and things like that.”

This year, the state Legislature awarded 4 percent allowable growth to schools. For each student, the FDCSD will receive $6,393.

“That is what our budget is based on,” Hansel said. “The Legislature has not set allowable growth for fiscal year ’16, so they’re still working on that.”

The amount, Hansel said, allows the district to “break even.”

“We can’t provide additional services for students or hire additional staff with 4 percent. It basically keeps us flat, in terms of what we can do,” he said. “It’s low by historical comparisons, but we’re able to make do.”

For its 2013-14 and 2012-13 school years, the district faced a $2 million shortfall.

The district, though, will not have a budget shortfall this year.

“For the first time in many years we’re going to have a balanced budget,” Hansel said. “We’ve done the heavy lifting over the past couple of years and made the necessary reductions, so we’re now living within our means and the board is very happy to see that.”

The property tax rate will be the lowest it’s been in 10 years, Hansel said.

“It’s almost a full $2 less than its peak in the 2011 fiscal year,” he said. “The board really wanted to make the public aware that they’ve been able to lead them through very complex times as far as school funding is concerned and have been able to increase the services and resources available to the district through the renewal of the PPEL (Physical Plant and Equipment Levy) and the increase of the instructional support levy, while at the same time keeping property tax levels stable.”

He added, “That’s something they’re very proud of and that’s a promise they wanted to keep to the community, and they’ve been able to do that.”

The estimated budget for the current 2013-14 year was $51.19 million in revenue and $50.36 million in expenditures. This will be amended in May to $57.8 million in revenue and $58.3 in expenditures, Hansel said.

“A lot of construction expenses got deferred into this current fiscal year,” he said. “Originally, the contractor said they were going to be done in February of last year. Obviously, that didn’t happen. A lot of those expenses were budgeted in, but have now been pushed into this fiscal year, so we’ll have to amend for that reason.”

The biggest expenditure for the district is staff. Following negotiations, there will be increases in pay and benefits.

“We’ve settled with the teacher’s union and the custodial maintenance union. The other groups are still ongoing and we hope to be finished up with them shortly,” Hansel said. “Both of those groups were able to negotiate an increase for next year.”