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How did RB end up with a budget surplus?

Rebecca Rusiecki, News Editor

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Contrary to the predicted budget deficit, RB ended the past fiscal year with a surplus of $333,158.  Although last year’s budget predicted a deficit of $920,000, the final amount varied mainly due to appeals in property taxes.  Last year, the school budgeted about $850,000 to refund businesses who appealed their property taxes from prior years. The appeals didn’t go through the Cook County Board this year, which means the school did not have to pay for the appeals. As a result, the school had to pay approximately $340,000 less than budgeted.

In addition, RB received more general state aid than originally anticipated. For example, the school received a reimbursement of about $260,000 for special education and transportation. Similarly, spending categories such as utility costs and education fund expenditures came in far less than originally projected.

“The property tax items, the refunds, and the reimbursements for special education and transportation were about $600,000. Those are probably the two most significant items that contributed to the surplus,” said Chief Financial Officer Tim McGinnis.

This surplus of about $300,000 will be added to RB’s working cash fund, which is used to cover various expenses throughout the year.

“It will help us to cover all those expenses through the course of the year,” said McGinnis.

Despite this surplus, it is expected that this year’s budget will still run a deficit. As it was for the 2011-2012 year, a certain amount is budgeted to cover appeals in property taxes. Currently $800,000 is set aside to cover this. Assuming that the appeals go through, the budget should end as planned. Though the administration and school board adjusted this year’s budget to accommodate changes in spending, it will not make any changes regarding the money used to pay for property tax appeals.

“We will approve this year’s budget at the September 11th board meeting. We reviewed the budget multiple times and revised it accordingly. You can’t really adjust for the appeals. But if they come in, we will be well over budget again. Everywhere else in the budget where we felt things went up or down, we did adjust those accordingly so that it would help lower our deficit,” said Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.

However, the 2011-2012 surplus does not necessarily mean that the school has a more secure financial future. Though the school has improved its budgetary picture in the short run, Skinkis noted that it will have to find more solid, long term solutions to the budget problem.

“We still need to address with the board and with the community about how they want to proceed solidifying the financials of the district. With the steps that we’ve taken, they have helped us so that in the next year or two we have some stability and don’t have to continue with the cutting process. But we do need to begin to take serious looks at funding sources to help us further out than two or three years,” said Skinkis.

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
How did RB end up with a budget surplus?