Glendale - The Glendale-River Hills School Board formally approved the district's proposed 2011-12 budget and property tax levy, following a budget hearing last week. Approval came after several board members compared this year's budget building process to a roller coaster ride.
As the budget process began late last year, officials were bracing for a steep deficit that prompted the board to approve a referendum that was successful in April. As with all school districts across the state, Glendale-River Hills also was learning of the implications coming off Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill and 2011-13 biennial budget.
Based on available information, District Administrator Larry Smalley said he is anticipating a 2.19 percent increase in the property tax levy, the largest source of income in Glendale-River Hills. Nearly $11.6 million has been earmarked in levy revenue in the $16 million budget. The 2010-11 budget reflected $11.35 million in levy revenue.
"The (levy) increase reflects the passage of last April's referendum, the state's reduction in the annual per-pupil growth in the revenue limit and an increase in the community service fund," Smalley said.
School Board President Bob Roska praised Smalley and other employees involved in assembling this year's budget during the hearing.
"I give all of you credit," Roska said. "It's been a tough year."
To balance the books, the district has undertaken a number of changes this school year, including shifting band and orchestra programs out of the regular operating budget and transferring the offerings to community service, a fund designated for initiatives that could benefit residents living within the district's boundaries.
Other changes to the budget include reductions in the district's portion of health insurance premiums and retirement costs, each by $100,000. Also, a curriculum director position has remained vacant for 2011-12, following the resignation of Heidi Erstad, resulting in a savings of $125,000.
The board will take a final vote on the budget and certify the levy when all known pieces of information become available.
"Further adjustments to the budget are expected prior to the final budget adoption in October, including general fund revenue (from that state) that will be decided by the student count on Sept. 16," Smalley said.
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