CLINTON — East Feliciana Parish public school employees will get a smaller than normal extra paycheck this fiscal year as the School Board tries to balance its general fund budget with dedicated tax revenues.
The School Board levies two 1-cent sales taxes; half of the revenue from one is dedicated to salaries and benefits, along with 91 percent of the other.
The board also collects a 17-mill property tax for salaries and benefits.
As excess revenue collects in the funds, the board usually authorizes a “13th check” with the surplus funds.
In the budget adopted Tuesday, however, the dedicated tax proceeds are scheduled to be used to pay for employee health insurance and retirement costs, with fewer dollars expected to be used for a one-time pay supplement.
In January, the board authorized using $600,000 for a 13th check, but ended the fiscal year June 30 with a $277,000 deficit that dropped the board’s general fund reserves to only $678,285.
Because the tax propositions approved by the voters allow for the money to be used for benefits, the board elected after several months of discussion to apply some of the tax revenue directly to insurance and retirement costs, which have increased while state funding has been frozen.
As a result, the budget anticipates the employees’ extra pay to total only $200,000 this year.
The budget also freezes step raises, and reflects a $1.07 million decrease in spending, some of it resulting from Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr.’s plan to cut staffing in the central office in mid-October.
With an anticipated $17.24 million in revenues and $16.95 million in expenses, the budget is projected to have a $292,000 operating surplus at the end of the year, raising the general fund balance back to about $970,000.
Budget adviser Tommy LeJeune said the board should try to get its fund balance, or reserves, up to $1.7 million, or 10 percent of an annual budget.
The budget assumes that student enrollment will be the same as the 1,952 counted in February, which would give the school system the same amount of state money. Lewis reported on Aug. 24 that the student count was 73 below the February number but had been rising.