By Ida Brown / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
A projected increase in expenditures is expected in the coming year for Lauderdale County School District. However, school officials say they will not ask for a tax increase from Lauderdale County residents.
Total expenditures for the 2013-2014 year are budgeted at $62,024,401 – a $7,168,130 increase from 2012-13 expenditures.
"The increase in expenses is due to hiring additional teachers, restroom renovations at all schools, additional security, and lights on three baseball fields," said LCSD Superintendent Randy Hodges.
The 2013-14 budget was reviewed during a hearing this week at the Court House Annex.
The proposed budget revenue for Fiscal Year 2014 is $77,802,761. Of projected expenditures, $5,648,782 is due to an increase in state retirement benefits,
additional teachers, textbooks, technical services for testing and facilities.
According to Charlotte Parker, LCSD's director of finance, the increase in state retirement affects all Mississippi schools.
"Rates have been increasing for the past several years – 12 percent, 13.56 percent, 14.26 percent, and for the next year it will be 15.75 percent," Parker said.
Lauderdale County School District will use district fund reserves for the restroom renovations and the new baseball lights. Everything else will be paid with projected revenue.
Hodges noted that the school board has requested an increase in taxes only once in the last five years.
"The only increase in funds from ad valorem tax will be those generated from new construction," he said.
Following are budget highlights:
• State funding: The district will receive $31,187,936 in Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) funding for Fiscal Year 2014. This amount represents an increase of $1,602,140 from Fiscal Year 2013.
The increase is due to state retirement, teacher's salaries and five additional special education-approved teachers.
• Increase in salaries: Teachers and assistant teachers will receive a step increase due to years of experience. All other staff will receive a 3 percent increase.
The school board has approved to hire 6.5 additional teachers for FY14.
• Utility costs: The total budge for utilities is $1,158,900 – $118,500, water; $860,000, electricity; and $178,400, natural gas – as compared to $1,168,400 last year.
• Increase in employer retirement: The cost of the district's portion of retirement will increase in July 2013 to 15.75 percent from 14.26 percent. Total cost for Fiscal Year 2014 is $5,071,152, with an increase of $425,000. The district received funds from the state for this increase.
• Education Enhancement Funds: Education Enhancement Funds are generated from the 1 cent sales tax increase that went into effect June 1, 1992. The projected revenue that will be received from the state for these funds, HB 1593, total $224,580. This will be the second year for teachers to receive education enhancement procurement cards.
• Sixteenth Section Revenue: Revenue from 16th Section sources is posted into main funds.
The 16th Section Principal Fund is a nonexpendable permanent trust fund. Funds were borrowed from this endowment 20 years ago to purchase property that is currently Southeast Middle School. The projected balance of the 16th Section principal fund on July 1, 2013, is $383,000.
The 16th Section Interest Fund is a special revenue fund. Budgeted revenue consists of leases, timber sales, and interest earnings. Some sections are shared with Meridian Public School District and they are paid their pro-rata revenue each year.
• No change in total millage rate: The operations millage rate (excluding debt service) is 51.68. This helps fund the main operating (district maintenance) fund. The millage rate to fund debt service is 3.00. The district total millage is 54.68.
(Note: The county sets the millage rate based on the district's dollar request and the above millage rates are estimates calculated by the district. Actual millage rates will not be known until September 2013, when the count sets this rate)
Hodges said the school district is "doing a great job of managing the taxpayers' money." He added that the district's focus has always been the students.
"We strive to provide the best possible education for the children of Lauderdale County in a safe, clean environment," Hodges said. "We make every effort possible to employ highly qualified teachers, administrators and support staff."