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Lindbergh operational revenues up $1.2 million over originally adopted '04-'05 budget


December 22, 2004 - By SCOTT MILLER

Staff Reporter

Operational revenues are up about $1.2 million this year, according to a fiscal 2004 budget revision approved last week by the Lindbergh Board of Education.

Even with the revenue increase, Lindbergh will grab about $1.08 million out of its reserve coffer to pay the bills this year. Lindbergh officials originally projected spending $2 million from the district's reserve, 46 percent less than they project now.

Lindbergh will maintain one of the largest reserve funds in the state, according to information presented to board members by Pat Lanane, assistant superintendent for fi-nance and the district's chief financial officer.

When fiscal 2004 ends on June 30, the district should have a fund balance around $22.25 million, roughly 50 percent of its total operating budget.

This year's beginning balance of $23.33 million is based on final audited numbers, but during the budgeting process in 2003-2004, Lanane expected it would be roughly $21 million.

The news of an increase in revenue follows a recommendation by a district budget committee to seek a tax-rate increase to maintain competitive teacher salaries, up-to-date technology and high academic achievement. The committee last month urged board members not to dip into the reserve fund again and recommended asking voters for a tax-rate increase instead.

The board still is pondering the idea and has hired the Chilenski Strategy Group for $12,400 to conduct a community survey on the matter after the holidays. Survey results will be presented at the board's Jan. 11 meeting, Lanane said.

The Board of Education will sponsor an open forum at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 at the high school, 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd., to discuss the possible tax-rate increase as well as the district's spending priorities.

Based on the approved budget amendment, Lindbergh's operational revenues in-creased to $42,300,499 from $41,118,643 on July 1, the beginning of the district's fiscal year. Also, operational expenditures increased about one-half percent to $43,386,918 from $43,118,643, an increase of $268,275. The operational amounts ex-clude debt service.

"Remember this is a comparison of the revised budget from June and I really do caution against a lot of comparisons to last year because we always try to be a little conservative on the revenues and we try to be a little liberal on the expenditures," Lan-ane said. "Those numbers are slightly de-flated and inflated so when you do a direct comparison, until they get to be final numbers, you really don't have an apples to apples (comparison). There will be some adjustments to those numbers before we end the year."

A tax perk for having Safeco Insurance base within district boundaries generated the bulk of the extra revenue, $919,074. Lindbergh has received the money in the past, but Lanane has not planned on it because the money could be gone at anytime. He said he will not budget that revenue next year either.

Safeco rents office space on Watson Road for legal operations. Because it's rental, Lanane worries the company will leave when a better deal presents itself.

"The biggest changes that always occur to our revised budget are two or three things. No. 1, certain revenues we actually received now. Things like county stock insurance (Safeco). That's been received and there was some doubt that we might not get it but it's in and now we can revise our budget and include that. That was by far the largest revenue change," Lanane said.

A $170,810 increase in aid from the federal government also contributed to the increase as well as an increase in county court fines and forfeitures. Lindbergh also received $65,269 more from the state than anticipated.

"On the expenditure side, we have real employees," Lanane said. "We were talking about in May what we think our em-ployees are going to be versus what they turn out to be in September. That's always a difference. It's a bit of guess going in as to what level teachers will be hired in at, what level will the classified staff come in at."

While certified salary expenses decreased $343,098 from the original fiscal 2004-2005 budget, classified salaries increased $138,621 and employee benefits increased $535,822.

Other spending decreases brought the total expenditure increase to $268,275.

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