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PES to look at more cuts

PRINCETON — Princeton Elementary Superintendent Tim Smith is going to start looking for options for plugging another hole in the district’s budget.

At Thursday’s Building and Grounds Committee meeting, Smith gave board members Steve Bouslog, Judd Lusher and Terry O’Neill an update on the district’s budget.

Smith said in November, the district learned its estimated taxable value was going up a little, an increase of a little more than $1 million to $244.7 million.

A little more than one month later, Smith said he learned that some revisions actually resulted in the taxable value going down about $10 million to $233.7 million.

This drop resulted in a significant shortfall in all of the district’s funds. Smith said the education fund is down $193,000, the building fund down $32,000, the bond and interest fund down $40,000, transportation fund down $16,000, IMRF down $15,000, working cash down $9,000, tort immunity down $19,000 and life/safety down $6,000.

“Our budgeted numbers are way different than what reality is because of this discrepancy,” he said.

Because of this, Smith said the board would have to discuss all of the funds, but this committee needed to have a discussion about the building fund.

During the past several years, the district has made annual transfers from the transportation fund to the building fund to keep it in the black. Last year a transfer of $75,000 was budgeted with an actual transfer of $42,000 made. This year a transfer of $60,000 is budgeted.

Smith said the transfer will be a problem this year because of $16,000 less in the transportation fund.

“Plus the state is not funding transportation at the level they did one year ago, and it’s even worse than it was two years ago,” he said. “We’re going to be down over $100,000 from the state.”

Smith said the district has to stop funding the building fund with transportation dollars because the money’s not there.

Using some of the $3 million recently issued in bonds also isn’t a option because that money needs to be used solely for the education fund.

Regarding the building fund, Smith has reviewed some facility issues with PES Director of Buildings and Grounds Wayne Barr.

“We have to look at how we can bring the building fund back into the black,” he said. “We don’t have a choice.”

Smith wants to find $60,000 to $100,000 in savings in the building fund.

“That’s not going to be easy to do,” he said.

Smith asked the committee for approval for himself and Barr to spend time digging deep into potential savings options through efficiencies with building usage.

Smith has talked with Barr, but was waiting to talk with the principals of the buildings until he had the committee’s approval.

Smith said he was anxious about the building fund

“It used to be I didn’t like the fact we had to make transfers from transportation, but at least we knew the money was there,” he said.

Smith said he believed the transportation fund is sustainable on its own, but it can’t support the building fund.

Smith said he and Barr would come up with two or three options for the committee to review and then choose one to make a recommendation to the full board.

The committee approved Smith’s request, with Bouslog suggesting Smith not put a dollar amount on the proposed savings.

“I would hope it would be in that general area,” Bouslog said. “Ten thousand dollars isn’t going to help us.”

“Yeah,” Smith said. “It’s not floor wax.”

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