School Board told state deficit could be worseThe Hudson Board of Education heard five separate reports as to the financial state of things facing the Hudson School District at its monthly meeting last week.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson Board of Education heard five separate reports as to the financial state of things facing the Hudson School District at its monthly meeting last week.
Among them was the potential for more bad news from the state of Wisconsin. Financial Services Director Tim Erickson said Gov. James Doyle announced that the state could be facing as much as an additional $1.5 billion budget shortfall. That is in addition to the $5.7 billion already estimated.
Erickson explained that Doyle said he would not propose any new taxes to make up the shortfall and that “deeper cuts, more lay-offs and furloughs are expected.” Erickson added that the state’s new education bill, which was expected in June, will likely not be finalized until October.
“And stimulus money will not be enough to avoid cuts in state education aids.”
The board has already been told to expect around a 1.8 million cut in state aid because of the addition of a former TIF district to the property rolls, slower enrollment growth and the loss of interest and investment income.
Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten told the board that the latest unemployment figures for St. Croix County indicate that the “entire community is suffering as well.” Unemployment in the county was at 9.8 percent in March, more than a point above the 8.5 percent statewide rate which has been rising dramatically since January.
Erickson also presented the board with a cash balance month-by-month history which showed how the so-called fund balance fluctuates as bills are paid and revenue (mostly in taxes and state aids) are received. District policy dictates the amount of the fund balance in relation to the operating budget.
The board has been criticized in the past for having too much in the fund. In recent years, money from the fund has been used to offset the cost of capital projects like the new River Crest Elementary School and to offset the annual tax levy.
Bowen-Eggebraaten said that the district decreased the non-salary portion of the budget by 2.27 percent in anticipation of the decreased revenue. Additional program and operations cuts of more than $880,000 are also under consideration by the board. They include:
The staff reductions valued at $154,000 under consideration are:
In April the board also called for a wage and salary freeze for all employees for one year in an effort to not raise the levy and mill rate over its current levy of $7.04 per $1,000 of property value. Without the estimated $1 million savings from the freeze, the mill rate would likely rise by more than 2 percent.
Several School Board members said that while they supported making budget cuts to lower the tax levy, they did not like the idea of making any of the staff reductions. Mark Kaisersatt, Tom Holland, Cindy Crimmins and Lynn Robson all voiced opposition to the cuts despite the fact they had previously approved the reductions as part of a larger budget-cutting plan.
The board is scheduled to vote on the 2009-10 budget at its June 9 meeting. The exact amount of state aids to the district will not be finalized, however, until October.
In other business the board approved increases in the following fees:
For more information, contact the Hudson School District at (715) 377-3700 or go online at www.hudson.k12.wi.us.