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updated: 8/20/2012 11:46 PM

U-46 budget in black despite reductions from state

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Despite the state government slashing millions of dollars in funding and the rising cost of employee benefits, Elgin Area School District U-46 expects to approve a balanced budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Dale Burnidge, director of financial operations, said the state still owes the district about $7.8 million in payments for areas like special education and early childhood education, and has pared the district's share of general state aid, or payments made based on the number of students in a district.

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"The state cannot fill the full allocation of general state aid," Burnidge said. "This is the second year they have had to reduce allocations."

Burnidge said in 2012, general state aid was reduced about 5 percent, or $3.5 million, to $69.3 million. In 2013, the district is anticipating 11 percent less than the full allocation, or $62.2 million.

Still, the district's $416 million operating budget will be balanced, said Jeff King, chief operating officer.

A bright spot on the 2013 budget is the growth of property tax revenues. The district estimates property tax revenues will reach more than $291.1 million, up from about $283.8 million in the previous year.

"That's a big number that helped," said Burnidge, who added the district is planning on four payments from the state in 2013, which includes one payment owed from the previous year. "It helps gives us a little more surplus."

Federal funding of about $33.4 million is similar to the previous year, Burnidge said. However, potential cuts may be needed in 2013 if a federal deficit reduction agreement cannot be met, Burnidge said.

Although employee benefits jumped about $6 million in the 2013 budget, King said the district had worked with a health care committee to keep the costs down.

In addition, King said preliminary versions of the budget showed a potential $10 million shortfall based on a potential shift in pension funding. But because no action was taken to move the pension burden on to local school districts, King said those funds were reallocated across the district.

The 2013 budget will now go on display for 30 days and can be found on the district's website at u-46.org or at the Education Services Center, 155 E. Chicago St.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at a regular board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at the Education Services Center. The final adoption of the budget is set for Monday, Sept. 14.

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