As taxing entities head into budget season, they’re facing a lot of uncertainty as the economic impacts of the coronavirus really aren’t known. That’s also the case for the Park City Board of Education – who is also currently in salary and benefit negotiations with their staff.
With two and a half months left of this fiscal year and 98% of the tax revenues collected so far, Park City School District Business Administrator Todd Hauber says the district is in good shape.
“We're looking pretty positive,” Hauber said. “We're good on the property tax front. The state legislature did not cut the FY20 budgets in their special session, so we're expecting regular distributions from the state for those dollars. It will be a little bit tight on our fee based program or after school food services - those types of programs because we're not collecting revenues on those programs, yet we're maintaining all of our employees on payroll so that will be a little bit tight - but we should be able to come out the come out of the school year just fine.”
The district is expected to lose about $200 thousand from fees it usually collects.
For next fiscal year – school districts are waiting for the state legislature to make any adjustments to the appropriation it approved during the session earlier this year.
“As you recall when they closed out the session just a couple months ago,” Hauber said. “They were looking at 6% on the Weighted Pupil Unit so that was the largest increase ever that the state has seen on the WPU. But now going into the special session, they're going to need to revise that if they look at the economic impact to the state and there's some uncertainty there. So, we're not sure what the increase will actually look like.”
During the special session, lawmakers will just be considering whether the WPU – the Weighted Pupil Unit - needs to be adjusted. The plan is to move forward with the constitution amendment request that will be on November’s ballot.
If approved by voters, education – in the future - would essentially be held harmless. Lawmaker agreed to give school districts the same amount of money plus more for new growth. But Hauber says that’s not trigged unless the amendment is approved.
“This a solution that comes a little too late for the current situation but in the future, I think it'll give us a good basis to move forward,” he said.
Teacher negotiations are also on-going and there’s no way to say how they might be impacted by the economic situation.
“We’re still in those discussions… I don't know that they are on pause,” Hauber said. They might move a little slower as we wait for pieces of information, but the discussions are ongoing and hopefully will be beneficial as we get to the end of the negotiation season.”
The district has more than $12 million in the rainy-day fund and almost $22million in the capital fund. But Hauber says those are funds needed for emergencies – not on-going funding in future years…
“As we build budgets, we may dip into the one-time funds or those rainy-day funds if we think there's a better revenue picture 12 months out or closer,” he said. “So, we just want to be careful as we look at those fund balances…but they are there for these types of situations.”
Park City School District Business Administrator Todd Hauber. He added that House Bill 357 will allow districts to use their capital funds for operations but contingent on the November and that ability is not available this next fiscal year.