Janesville32°

School budget gets OK

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Frank Schultz
October 24, 2012

— The Janesville School Board did as expected Tuesday, shifting funds from its reserves to balance the 2012-13 budget.

Also as expected, the board approved the school property tax levy of $36.07 million, a decrease of about 1.9 percent from last year.

Taxes on an average house valued at $112,000 will be $18 less than last year, officials said, although that estimate is based on equalized values and does not reflect actual taxes in the various municipalities that comprise the school district.

Not so expected was a last-minute addition of $288,271 to the 2012-13 budget. The money will pay to replace carpeting at Marshall Middle School.

Board member Greg Ardrey said the existing carpet should be replaced in various classrooms and wings of the school where it is worn.

"They are tripping hazards. We are extremely fortunate that we haven't had any accidents there," Ardrey said.

The very worst areas have already been replaced at Marshall, but bad areas remain, said district Chief Financial Officer Keith Pennington.

Ardrey recommended spending $248,781 to address the concern, leaving some areas with old carpet.

Board member Karl Dommershausen moved to spend the extra $39,490 to complete the job.

The board voted unanimously for Ardrey's motion and then voted 7-2 for the add-on.

Voting no were Peter Severson and Bill Sodemann.

The board was unanimous in approving the tax levy, the budget and use of the reserves, or fund balance, to plug a budget shortfall of $3.94 million.

Dommershausen noted that using the fund balance solves the problem for this year but that the budget hole will remain a problem because so far, it's not funded for succeeding years.

To have enough money available from the fund balance, the board changed its policy. The policy sets aside portions of the reserves for specific uses. One of the set-asides is an emergency fund in case the self-funded health insurance plan is insufficient. The policy actually set aside money for that purpose twice, and the board voted to count it only once.

Pennington said the move changed the policy from "highly conservative" to "pretty solidly conservative."

"I'm very comfortable with the kind of reserve we'd have after doing this," he said.



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