- Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 October 2010 14:31
- Published on Wednesday, 13 October 2010 14:31
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King George County ending fiscal year in the black with $2.5M
The King George Board of Supervisors was last week given an updated forecast for the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year.
The School Board is expected to have a surplus of $686,427. The county will be in the black with about $2.5 million on the plus side.
The 2009-10 fiscal year ended on June 30, though both revenue and expenditures could be accrued back for 60 days in accordance with last year’s adopted budget.
The projected end-of-year balance was provided at last Tuesday’s meeting on Oct. 5 in a brief verbal report by Donita Harper, Deputy County Administrator & Director of Finance.
Harper did not provide a breakdown or analysis of how the county ended up with $2.5 million leftover. It’s likely due to higher revenues than budgeted combined with efficiencies kept in place by County Administrator Travis Quesenberry.
SCHOOL BOARD SURPLUS
The School Board’s estimated 2009-10 surplus of $686,427 is money that could have been allocated in other areas of the county budget.
The current surplus estimate left on the table by the School Board is in addition to a Cafeteria Fund surplus of $34,273.
The School Board’s projected year-end balance is higher than Harper’s last estimate provided on Aug. 17. At that time she said the numbers were “very, very preliminary,” saying the School Board could end up with about $257,000.
As has been previously reported, the school division had so much money leftover at the end of the last fiscal year this past spring that it spent $61,818 in June on four new lawnmowers during its spending spree.
One of those four lawnmowers was charged to the Instruction category under “Instructional Materials” at a cost of $26,663.98.
Yet the King George School Board was able to end the fiscal year with at least $686,000 despite the fact that the lawnmower money and the leftover funds could have been spent on providing educational materials and services to try to boost the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the four out of the county’s five schools that did not meet the federal benchmarks.
As reported in August by the Virginia Department of Education, the only school in King George that made AYP was King George Elementary School, from benchmarks during the school year just finished.
Parents are questioning why there was Instructional funding leftover when it might have been spent on tutoring and actual instructional materials to get students up to speed.
Warrant lists indicate that Brown approved numerous other unplanned expenditures at the end of the fiscal year to spend down funding so there would not be a large surplus like there was last year.
The $1.19 million surplus at the end of the 2008-09 fiscal year was the largest amount left unspent by the School Board for at least the last decade.
PREVIOUS SCHOOL BOARD SURPLUSES FROM THE LAST DECADE
The School Board’s current projected surplus of $686,427 is added to the list of surpluses accrued in the last decade, despite its claims of chronic underfunding.
In 2008-09 - The School Board returned unspent funds of $1,192,001 to the county.
In 2007-08 - The School Board returned unspent funds of about $329,000 to the county
Amount of Surplus in Previous Years:
2006-2007 – $108,052
2005-2006 – $126,995
2004-2005 – $798,714
2003-2004 – $698,175
2002-2003 – $75,379
2001-2002 – $995,280
2000-2001 – $103,127
1999-2000 – $195,153
COUNTY BUDGETING IN A NUTSHELL
Each year during the county budgeting process, supervisors have the responsibility of carving up an estimated finite amount of money that is arrived at by the finance staff by forecasting local, state and federal revenues and balancing those against fixed costs for positions, operations and maintenance, etc.
Any discretionary money leftover is allocated by the board, whether to go toward increasing department budgets for law enforcement, social services, fire & rescue, and other government operations including Community Development, Parks & Recreation and library services, among others.
For the last couple of years, the state has come in with mid-year cuts in the December/January timeframe for its revenue to the county.
Those cuts for the most part are passed along to county departments and the constitutional office departments, which include law enforcement, courts and Commonwealth’s Attorney, Treasurer and Commissioner of Revenue.
If funding is appropriated into one area, it is not available to be used elsewhere. Those are the painful decisions that must be made by the Board of Supervisors, after hearing the cases made from staff and the School Board about where the money should be allocated.
GENERAL FUND BALANCE
After the annual audit is finalized in the next couple of months, supervisors could direct the surplus money to go into the county’s undesignated general fund balance.
That would help resuscitate that fund, which was raided when a majority of three supervisors decided to pump up the current 2010-11 School Board budget, even though the School Board had ended the previous 2008-09 year with its biggest surplus in a decade of $1.19 million.
The county needs to maintain a healthy reserve fund for several reasons.
The reserve fund has helped the county get a high credit rating enabling it to borrow money at lower interest rates on loans for capital projects, including new schools. That saves millions of dollars over the length of the 30-year loans.
In addition, funds must be available for unanticipated costs that frequently crop up, many due to unfunded state and federal mandates. That happened in August, when supervisors again had to come up with $188,382 for an additional appropriation for unbudgeted 2009-10 costs for the Comprehensive Services Act.