Tahoe Truckee school district aims to increase reserves as tax revenues decline | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee school district aims to increase reserves as tax revenues decline

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; An expected decrease in property tax revenue and an increase in expenditures means the school district will have to make significant cuts over the year to balance a tighter budget for the 2011-12 school year, district officials said.

Steve Dickinson, superintendent of finances for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, said current reserves are still healthy and will buy the district time to make reductions. The districtand#8217;s current reserves are at 12 percent and#8212; about $5.8 million and#8212; and its 2009-10 general fund revenues are about $48.4 million.

and#8220;I would just say itand#8217;s extremely fortunate that weand#8217;re even having a discussion about maintaining a healthy reserve,and#8221; he said at Wednesdayand#8217;s board workshop. and#8220;Itand#8217;s easy to look at our situation in Tahoe Truckee and forget about the relevance from the rest of the state.and#8221;

Dickinson said his estimation is based on lower property tax revenue as projected by Nevada County property reassessment.

Dickinson recommended a reserve target of $7.5 million for the 2010-11 fiscal year, equaling 15 percent of the districtand#8217;s current expenditures, to prepare for cuts in 2011-12. He said the $7.5 million is generated from combining state revenue at $5.5 million and 50 percent of parcel tax revenue from Measure A, totaling $2 million.

Measure A is a $98 parcel tax to homeowners living within district, valued at an estimated $3.7 million per year.

and#8220;This isnand#8217;t overly conservative at all; in fact, I believe itand#8217;s not conservative enough,and#8221; Dickinson told trustees, regarding the $7.5 million target.

The board is set to approve the 2010-11 budget in a special meeting on Wednesday, June 30, the last day of the current fiscal year.

Both trustees and Dickinson on Wednesday voiced concerns about potential impacts a year from now from the stateand#8217;s $20 billion deficit, as itand#8217;s possible the districtand#8217;s basic aid status may be taken away, a situation where high reserves would be needed to compensate for a loss in property tax revenue. In California, basic aid districts rely on much of their funding from local property taxes instead of from the state, as is the case in revenue limit districts.

Should the state discontinue basic aid status for districts and#8212; therefore funneling local property tax revenues into districts across the state and#8212; Dickinson said it would mean huge budget reductions for the district, because it would receive an unknown amount of pooled property tax revenue from homeowners across the state.

Furthermore, the possibility of Measure A not being renewed is worrisome, they said, as it could mean the loss of $3.7 million that supports, among other things, 35 full-time employees.

Trustee Bev Ducey commended the district for continuing to improve its educational model and developing its English language learner programs despite the stateand#8217;s harsh economic environment.

and#8220;We have some of the absolute best numbers in the state, and when people get up and say the opposite thatand#8217;s what makes people believe the opposite,and#8221; Ducey said after a few teachers voiced concerns about the districtand#8217;s programs and class size increases. and#8220;Letand#8217;s not paint it so black and white just because class sizes have gone up.and#8221;

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