The Black Oak Mine Unified School District Board of Trustees heard a budget presentation from Chief Fiscal Officer Peter Rosenberry at its May 10 meeting. The budget report came prior to Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revised budget.
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“I was anticipating a negative end balance for this year,” said Rosenberry, who was hired by the district last October. “Now I’m projecting a positive fund balance through the end of next year.”
The change came after Gov. Brown fully funded transportation services to school districts for the 2012-13 school year, but Rosenberry is still cautious.
“The reality is we are qualified,” he said. “The multi-year projection is that we won’t be able to meet all of our obligations three years out.”
Rosenberry added that originally if the November tax initiative failed (there are several of them expected on the November ballot), there would be mid-year cuts to transportation. But with the governor’s full funding of those services and a change from restricted to more flexible spending options of those funds, ADA funding is expected to be cut instead. Mid-year for school is January or February of next year.
Since 2007-08, the state has reduced the BOMUSD’s ADA funding by $663 per student. Currently, the state funds the local district for each student who is in school (ADA) at $5,164, which is expected to drop to $5,132 for 2012-13. The potential mid-year cuts would drop that amount to $4,647 per student, a reduction of more than $485.
“Our reserves are not high enough to keep us afloat for several years,” said Rosenberry. But he is optimistic that one more year afloat could be managed.
“If we end up with a negative status, a state administrator would take over the school district and the school board. The state would make all the calls, but I think we can avoid that.”
Two of the tax initiatives expected on the Nov. 6 ballot are Gov. Brown’s tax increase initiative and the “Millionaire’s Tax,” which have merged into the California Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative, and the Munger tax increase initiative. One provision for the merged initiatives includes raising the California sales tax to 7.5 percent from 7.25 percent. This is a 3.45 percent increase over the current law, and under the original Brown tax hike, the sales tax would have increased to 7.75 percent.
Other provisions include creating three new high-income tax brackets for taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding $250,000, $300,000, and $500,000. (The increased tax would be in effect for seven years.) The increased tax rate would vary depending on income level from 10.3 percent to 12.3 percent, with estimated revenue from $6.8 billion to $9 billion.
The Munger tax increase initiative is referred to by its sponsors as the “Our children, our future: Local schools and early education investment act.” If enacted, it would increase state income tax rates for most Californians, resulting in an increase of $10 billion per year in revenue; the state income tax increases would end after 12 years, unless reauthorized by voters; and it would earmark most of the new revenue of $10 billion for public school districts and early childhood development programs. The initiative’s primary advocate is Molly Munger, for whom it is named.
Munger has come under extreme pressure to withdraw her initiative, but she is quoted in the Weall Street Journal saying, “Under our proposal, virtually all the cuts that the schools have suffered in the last four years would all be restored — and under the governor’s initiative, virtually none would be.”
Two other potential tax measures include a “tax on oil” initiative and an effort to collect more income taxes from out-of-state businesses.
Referring to “tough times” and “tough decisions,” Rosenberry said, “(Unfortunately), we don’t get to choose our funding sources. (Currently) we are outspending what we make. The biggest control we have is reducing our expenditures.”
In his report to the board, Rosenberry stated that the district has already brought its deficit spending down by 44 percent. For the 2012-13 school year, the district has reduced its deficit spending by $635,000. For the upcoming year, however, Rosenberry still calculates that the district will have an $815,000 budget gap.
“Tough decisions have been made,” he said. “We need to finish closing our budget gap, continually monitor California’s decisions and trends, and prepare for the tough times ahead. It’s a transitional time for employees, students, parents and the community.”
The next meeting of the board is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the district office on Wentworth Springs Road. The trustees will recognize this year’s students of the year as well as its retirees.