Tahoe/Truckee school district estimates $4.5M deficit for 2012-’13 | SierraSun.com

Tahoe/Truckee school district estimates $4.5M deficit for 2012-’13

Jason ShuehSierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. – Bittersweet might be the best description of the school district’s financial outlook, which shows an estimated $4.5 million deficit for the 2012-’13 fiscal year – but also a projection that includes no further dips to property tax revenues.Tahoe Truckee Unified School District officials discussed the situation at the Dec. 14 board meeting, a day after California Gov. Jerry Brown announced that $1 billion will be cut from the state’s budget.TTUSD Superintendent of Finance Steve Dickinson said Brown’s cuts – $79.6 million of which will be taken from public schools – will translate to a roughly $500,000 loss for the district. The news comes as a striking blow for TTUSD, which originally estimated its 2012-’13 deficit at $4 million, Dickinson said.The deficit will be handled with $2.7 million from the district’s reserves, Dickinson said, with the remaining $1.8 million coming from still-to-be-determined budget reductions. Currently, the district’s reserves stand at $7.8 million.Negotiations are ongoing between teachers and district staff and are aimed to reduce layoffs; however, Dickinson said position cuts are likely, considering a large portion of district expenditures go to pay labor.”It will get tougher and tougher not to hit these employee areas, because that’s what we do – employ people,” said Dickinson.

An initial assessment of possible reductions shows certificated teaching staff would be cut by $843,000, or 46.8 percent of the total $1.8 million; classified district staff would be cut by about $354,000, or 19.7 percent; and $201,000 (11.2 percent) would come from managerial staff and administration.The last amount, roughly $401,000 – or 22.3 percent – will come from multiple areas, Dickinson said.Dickinson and Trustee Kim Szczurek both raised concerns on Dec. 14 about preserving the district’s reserves, so these reductions and potential future cuts won’t leave the district with insufficient emergency funding.”We talk about this clinically, but in reality it makes me sick to my stomach,” Szczurek said, referring to budget cuts as a whole.If potential plans remain current, Dickinson said the reserve budget would decline to $5.5 million for 2013-’14 fiscal year, and $2.87 million for 2014-’15.And darker clouds may arrive, Dickinson cautioned, if Brown isn’t able to secure his $7 billion in higher taxes from voters this November, a move that would avoid deeper state reductions next year.

Despite ominous forecasts, Dickinson said district property tax revenues (collected from Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties) were higher than anticipated this year, declining only 1.7 percent instead of an anticipated 3 percent, generating an additional $541,000 in revenue. Furthermore, the district estimates next year and the year after, property tax revenues will be flat.As a whole, Dickinson said total expenditures for this year equal $44.1 million, and general fund revenues total $42.1 million. Next year, he estimates expenditures at $43.4 million, with general fund revenues totaling $40.9 million.