Anderson School District One Board looking at options to balance $82.4 million budget

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The Anderson School District One Board held a “virtual” budget work session following their regular monthly meeting on WEBEX last Tuesday.
Superintendent Robbie Binnicker started his presentation saying, “it is not a good budget and has lots of challenges.”
The draft budget as presented shows revenues of $79,332,680 and expenses of $82,418,127 with a budget deficit of $3,085,447.
Binnicker presented information on expected revenues and expenses that are included in the draft budget and options for the board to consider to make up the projected deficit.
Anticipated expenses include Salaries $48,865,256; Fringe Benefits $22,570,809; Purchased Services $4,690,902; Supplies and Materials $4,029,310; Equipment/Capital purchases $1,364,475 and Transfers and other $897,375.
State Funding based on the Base Student Cost is expected to remain the same as the current year at $2,489. With a weighted pupil unit of 13,348 students, the district will receive $27,086,984 from the state.
Binnicker pointed out that if the state was funding the BSC according to the EFA formula, it would be $3,164 and Anderson District One would receive an additional $7,366,974.
The current millage rate for Anderson District One is 153.4. The full value of a mill is $225,279. The adjusted value of a mill is $110,750.
Property and auto taxes will bring in $16,350,742. Delinquent taxes are projected at $270,000; Fee in Lieu of Tax  will provide $1.7 million and County Equalization (17.7 mills) comes to $3.5 million.
Under the state guidelines of ACT388, residential property taxes on owner occupied homes do not contribute to school operations. The tax burden instead falls entirely on business owners, rental properties and vehicles.
According to Binnicker, growing school districts like District One are penalized under ACT388 which limits revenues per student and new school start up costs.
The one cent sales tax has helped but has not matched revenues that were being generated by property taxes.Even with the limit on funding, AD1 usually ranks in the top 10 of 81 districts on academic performance.
Binnicker also said that District One has a per pupil expenditure of $10,671 compared to the average for the state at $13,214. District One also has the lowest per pupil administrator expenditure in the state.
The state average for operating mills is 188.  The current District One millage rate is 153.4.

Options presented by the Superintendent include a tax millage rate increase and increase based on growth.
Under the current guidelines for taxes increases, based on CPI and growth, District One can increase the millage rate to 159.8 mills which would bring in an additional $708,799. If the FY 20 and FY 21 CPI and Growth is added, the millage can increase to 165.3 mills, which would bring in an additional $1,317,923.
There is an option of a reduction of 15 staff which would save approximately $1 million.
Even with the increases, there is still a deficit of $667,524 in the draft budget.
It could be made up with a fund balance transfer.
The 2019-20 budget of $80,372,490 also had a deficit which was balanced with $747,037 from the District’s Fund Balance. The Fund Balance is in very good shape with $18,630,404 in it.
The District is also expecting $1.2 million in stimulus funding which Binnicker said could be used to “shore up the budget.”
Binnicker will meet with the Board to decide on which options they will proceed with on May 12 if needed. A public hearing is scheduled for May 26 at 6 p.m. and the Board is expected to give final approval to a budget at the Board Meeting that evening. The AD1 budget will be sent to the Anderson County School Board on June 1 and a presentation will be made to them mid June.