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Income up, costs down in District 101 budget

MORRIS – Next year’s tentative budget for Morris Community High School District 101 shows a $60,000 increase in expected revenues, while expenditures show a decrease of a little more than $250,000.

The district’s tentative budget shows about $14.87 million in projected expenses across all its funds versus about $12.53 million in projected revenue.

The district has a nearly $2.3 million deficit in its Education Fund. Operating this fund on a deficit has been standard for the district since Midwest Generation closed and the district lost 35 percent of its local equalized assessed value in 2004. It then began issuing working cash bonds to operate.

The tentative budget includes a $1.4 million working cash bond. Last year, the district had a $1.45 million cash bond.

“There will be more fine-tuning before the September meeting when we have the hearing,” Superintendent Pat Halloran told the board Monday night.

The school board approved the tentative budget Monday by a 6-0 vote, with Eric Monson absent. Final budget approval is scheduled for September.

Halloran told the board that balances at the end of fiscal 2014 were higher than expected, with the education fund coming in 17 percent higher than projected and the transportation fund coming in 15 percent higher.

“The education fund has a higher ending balance mainly due to two things: we received a fifth categorized payment and lower than expected expenditures,” Halloran said.

The education fund is seeing increases in total direct revenue, the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax, general state aid and special education reimbursement, while seeing a decrease in local sources and in the property tax levy.

The education fund is also seeing a decrease in expenditures in benefits, supplies and capital outlay, while seeing an increase in salaries and purchased services.

Halloran said a $74,740 increase in salaries represents a 1.7 percent increase, which he said wasn’t bad considering it was a collective bargaining year.

The district removed staff, but also hired a special education social worker, which Halloran said meant the district saved about the same amount of money it was paying the Grundy County Special Education Cooperative for social work services.

The district advised the Grundy County Special Education Co-op last October of the district’s intention to decentralize its special education coordinator and social worker positions.

Halloran told the board a positive note was that the local EAV was only down two percent instead of the projected five percent decrease originally anticipated.

He said General State Aid is almost making up for the EAV decline and will continue to pay at a rate of 89 percent.

“We’re happy state aid is staying at 89 percent. We looked at some scenarios were it was as low as 65 percent,” Halloran told the board.

“We are very pleased with where we are at,” Board President Dennis Best said. “We are pleased with Pat and the hard work he does on the budget.”

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