UPDATED 2:30 P.M. TUESDAY, JUNE 23:
YORKVILLE – Yorkville school officials said they are looking at a lot more unknowns at this point in the district's fiscal year 2021 budget approval process than there typically would be due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education voted, 7-0, during their Monday, June 22 meeting to approve its fiscal year 2021 tentative budget. School board president Lynn Burks and member Shawn Schumacher were present physically for the meeting at the Yorkville High School library, 797 Game Farm Road, and the rest of the school board members attended remotely.
Mindy Bradford, the district's executive director of finance and operations, said the tentative budget as presented currently has a $510,000 operational surplus and a $373,000 deficit from a total budget perspective. She said there are still going to be a significant number of changes made over the summer and that staff is going to have to do quite a bit of heavy lifting with the budget while considering more elusive variables including salaries, the COVID-19 pandemic, contingency and capital.
Bradford told the school board she knows the goal is always to have a balanced budget – and staff will still try to do that.
“But, obviously, we have some limitations, depending on where we think state funding’s going to come in, where we think investments and income is going to come in," Bradford said. "So we’ll continue to work through those.”
Bradford said staff will continue to update the board about resulting changes during the summer. She said the tentative budget will be on display starting Tuesday, June 23.
There was no further discussion about the budget among board members during the Monday meeting.
Bradford said during a remote June 11 Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting that the district typically adopts a tentative budget in June and passes a final actual budget by the end of September. She said a lot of district transition teams continue to work through a number of issues related to the budget, including what school is going to look like this coming fall.
“So, certainly, there’s going to be a lot of additional heavy lifting on the budget over the summer that align with team suggestions as to what those costs would be,” Bradford said.
Bradford wrote in a memo ahead of the June 11 meeting that district administration was analyzing the potential CARES Act, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency funding the district could receive due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She wrote COVID-19 related expenditures required across all departments and buildings also are being assessed.
Bradford said the district at least knows that, with its evidence based funding, they typically get $300,000 to $400,000 of incremental funding every year. She said during the Monday meeting she wasn't expecting the state to come through with a fourth payment, but it actually did and that amount that wasn't budgeted before essentially will go into the district's reserves.
Bradford said the district spent significantly less on transportation this year than they had originally budgeted for. She said the district had anticipated a 10% increase in transportation costs based on bids that ended up coming in.
“That ended up actually coming up to 1.1% rate reduction rather than that increase," Bradford said. "So there was some pretty significant savings there that helped partially kind of offset the reduction in transportation revenue that we expect for next year.“
Bradford said other big expense adjustments the district made to the budget include being able to hold benefits costs flat for employees.
Bradford said the property tax levy collection assumption also will have a big impact on the district's fiscal year 2021 budget. As a placeholder with the hope it's a conservative estimate, she said, the district is looking at a 98% collection percentage, which is almost a $1 million impact.
“If we see actually a better collection rate than that, every 1% increase collection rate would be worth almost $75,000 to the good,” Bradford said.
Bradford said district finance officials are working with the Kendall County treasurer and clerk to closely monitor those numbers. She said the first property tax payments made in late May and early this month came in at $5.8 million this year, as opposed to the $5.1 million equivalent from last year.
“So that was pretty surprising that we actually saw an increase,“ Bradford said.
Overall, Bradford said, those June collections are going to be a big number for the district budget because that might result in a shift of dollars from fiscal year 2020 into fiscal year 2021. Right now, the district is assuming it will receive half of overall receipts in fiscal year 2020 and the other half in fiscal year 2021, she said, but the district will be able to update the budget with any related changes between now and September, when the second half of the district's levy is supposed to come in.
Bradford said school officials have been going back and taking a look at collection percentages from fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009 during the Great Recession where the district's property tax collections fell, with the thought that could hopefully provide more guidance as to what the district might expect a little more long-term. By 2010, she said, the district was back to its normal more than 99.5% collection rate.
“But in the short time, there might have been short dip that we want to be aware of and include in our budget,” Bradford said.
• This story has been updated with more information following the Monday, June 22 Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education meeting.