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updated: 8/24/2011 4:50 PM

Bensenville Dist. 2 predicts budget surplus

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Even as Bensenville School District 2 moves forward with a major construction project that will consolidate its schools, officials say its operating budget will have a $243,000 surplus next year.

It is part of the proposed $32.1 budget for the 2011-12 school year.

The budget is available for public viewing until Sept. 22, when the school board is slated to formally adopt it.

Chief Financial Officer Paul Novack said District 2 already holds the funds needed for the current construction project, which will cost $47 million over several years and is consolidating its four schools into two.

Work is being funded using a combination of low-interest Build America Bonds, a state grant and cash reserves.

"The district has succeeded for many years at living within its means," said Novack. "For many years they didn't spend every dollar that came in the door, and that's what makes it possible to have our share of funds for the construction projects."

New expenses for next year will also include $800,000 for computer equipment and $340,000 for new buses.

Salaries and benefits, which comprise more than half of the operating budget's expenditures at about $20.1 million, are expected to increase about 4 percent next year. Novack said some of that amount includes for open positions that may not be filled, thus even less money may be spent.

The lion's share of District 2's money comes from property tax revenue, making up about 73 percent of the operating budget. Despite a sagging housing market, the district's overall property tax assessment is up slightly from last year, meaning more money for schools, Novak said.

But with that, officials also anticipate a higher rate uncollected property tax and property tax challenges because of the difficult economy.

"We set aside extra funds for our budget this year to offset any effects from challenges or uncollected taxes," said Novack.

The district also expects to receive about $5 million from the state, which makes up about 16 percent of the operating budget. Novak said these grants are a combination of general state aid, which has increased from last year, and specific program grants, which decreased from last year.

Federal grants remain similar to last year at $2 million, making up about 8 percent of operating revenue.