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Brookhaven School District planning for $31M budget

The Brookhaven School District will operate on close to $31 million for the upcoming school year after getting a bump in local tax funding to make up for state shortfalls.

At a public hearing Tuesday evening attended by no members of the public, district finance director Cheryl Shelby presented the board with a fiscal year 2019 budget that draws $30,819,453 in revenue and plans for slightly more than $32 million in expenditures. The budget will get a slight bump in revenue from a 4-percent increase in local ad valorem contributions, which the law allows districts to ask for annually.

“This year, it’s a necessity we ask for the 4-percent increase,” Shelby said. “Last year we did not ask for the increase after taking a $200,000 cut in (state) funding, and this year, with a $500,000 cut, we had to ask for it. Pretty much everybody took some kind of cut this year.”

Brookhaven’s budget for the coming school year will consist of $13,769,301 in state funding through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, good for almost 45 percent of the plan. Local tax contributions make up almost 38 percent of the budget for $11,598,326. The federal government is kicking in almost 17 percent of the budget at $5,130,285, and the district’s 16th Section revenues are projected to be $321,541, barely 1 percent.

The district is planning to request $9,460,140 in local ad valorem taxes for the new budget, an increase of $606,000 over last year’s total. The increase should knock out an MAEP shortfall of $534,000 that is contributing to an overall district shortage of around $575,000.

The district will use a little more than $1.3 million in debt service — $558,000 will pay the note on a general obligation bond, $412,000 is for payments on past years’ shortfall loans and close to $349,000 is for a three-mill note.

Like every school district, the largest piece of Brookhaven’s pie — almost 73 percent — will pay the district’s employees. Total salaries and benefits are $23.3 million. The remaining $8.6 million will pay for professional services, supplies, equipment and other costs.

The district will pay the $1.2 million gap between revenues and expenditures by pulling together cash on-hand from various small accounts, Shelby said. One example is the district’s daycare fund, which runs a positive balance because the district already contributes to pre-K programs. That fund will transfer $150,000 of its surplus back to the budget, she said.

The budget sets aside almost $723,000 for operations at the school level, $712,000 for utilities and close to $174,000 for two new school buses.

At the end of all the pie charts and spreadsheets, revenues and expenditures zero out.

“It’s a balanced budget,” Shelby said. “We’re planning on limiting our expenditures to what we’re estimated to bring in.”

During the presentation, school board members had a few questions about particular items and funds in the budget, but no one threw the brakes on the process or voiced displeasure with the work.

“Sounds like we’re gonna be able to have school again next year,” said board chairman Willie “Doc” Harrison.

Superintendent Ray Carlock was satisfied with the work, too.

“It’s a good budget,” he said. “After all the cuts we took, it’s a good budget. Our business manager did a wonderful job putting this together.”

The board will vote to adopt the budget at its next meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m.