By Heidi R. Kinchen
Florida Parishes bureau
August 22, 2012
LIVINGSTON — Increases in sales tax revenue and state funding based on student enrollment will not be enough to keep the Livingston Parish school system’s 2012-13 budget from running a deficit, according to a draft presented to School Board members Tuesday.
The School Board’s Budget/Goals Committee voted to recommend approval of the budget, which projects a $2.8 million general fund deficit for the year, dropping the fund’s balance to $8.3 million.
The budget will go before the full board for formal adoption on Sept. 6.
The $179.6 million general fund includes a projected 7 percent increase in sales tax collections over 2011-12, amounting to an additional $1.3 million in revenues, as well as $1.3 million more in state funding based on the district’s increase in student enrollment, business manager Terry Hughes said.
The enrollment-based funding was set according to the district’s student population in February, Hughes said. The system should see another funding increase in March based on the additional students enrolled this fall, she said.
Salary and benefit expenses also are projected to rise in 2012-13 due to the district’s reinstatement of three furlough days, a step increase in pay and a state-mandated 0.8 percent increase in the district’s contribution toward teachers’ retirement, Hughes said.
Those changes, along with the loss of about $1.8 million in federal Education Jobs Fund money that had supported salaries, put an additional $5.5 million burden on the general fund, according to figures Hughes provided.
Although salaries and benefits have made up about 90 percent of the general fund budget over the past three years, the ratio between the two categories has shifted. Salaries have decreased 4.36 percent since 2009-10 while benefits increased 4.66 percent in the same timeframe, Hughes said.
Other factors affecting the bottom line include a 7 percent, or $1 million, reduction in the district’s contribution share to group health insurance; a $225,000 increase in various materials and supplies costs; a $400,000 increase in equipment costs, primarily in transportation; and a $500,000 decrease in the amount of general fund support for the district’s school food service fund, Hughes said.