Putnam expects $1.6 million increase in school salary, benefit expenses
Putnam County school officials expect to pay $1.6 million more in salary and benefits next fiscal year, because they’ve hired more teachers and other workers, and state legislators raised pay for educators and service personnel.
But the district’s proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budget, which takes effect July 1 and was released for public inspection Friday, also anticipates an $800,000 increase in tax revenue from higher property values in the county. Also, the state is contributing about $1.1 million more to fund the higher paychecks, said school district treasurer Chris Campbell.
Campbell said the Legislature this year granted $1,000 pay raises for student support personnel, a category that includes counselors and nurses, and professional educators, a group including teachers and principals. Service personnel, who include secretaries and maintenance workers, will see a 2 percent increase to their annual base salary and an extra $12 in their monthly paychecks for state equity pay.
Beyond the higher paychecks, Campbell said the district also plans on employing 12 more workers than it did in the current fiscal year. Student enrollment was nearly 10,000 as of Oct. 1, up from around 9,770 last school year.
Campbell said the extra state funding won’t cover all of the pay raise because the state won’t fund certain positions, employees who work beyond the normal school year of 200 days and any personnel beyond the state’s calculation of how many workers the district needs.
Putnam has about 19 extra service personnel, Campbell said. He noted that many other counties also hire extra employees in this category. The county also has around three extra student support personnel.
Salaries and benefits are expected to represent about $77.6 million, or 82 percent, of the school system’s $94.8 million in general fund expenditures in the upcoming fiscal year. Despite the increased cost, salaries and benefits comprised nearly the same share in the original budget for the current fiscal year.
Compared with the current fiscal year’s original budget, the proposed 2014-15 budget plans for $700,000 more in spending on instruction, $400,000 more on student transportation, $400,000 more on operating and maintaining facilities and $300,000 more on student support services. Campbell said all of these projected jumps are overwhelmingly driven by the salary and benefit increases.
As for property tax revenue, the increase was driven by a roughly $60 million increase in Putnam’s total assessed property valuation, which now stands at $2.91 billion. The increased property values also lifted the Putnam County Commission’s 2014-15 budget, which passed in March with $200,000 more in planned spending. The total levy revenue increase was about 2 percent, a number Campbell said shows the county is growing at a slower pace.
“We’re still heading in the right direction,” he said.
The proposed budget plans to drop capital project spending, which is separate from the general fund, from $1.1 million to less than $800,000.
The school system, pending final touches like those on Winfield elementary and middle schools, will be finished in August with about a decade of extensive school building and major renovations, Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said at a school board meeting last week. He estimated about $120 million has been spent on construction over that time. Putnam residents voted for higher property taxes in 2009 that allowed the district to sell $57 million in bonds for new building projects. The state School Building Authority contributed about $22 million when voters made that commitment.
A copy of the proposed budget is available at the Board of Education headquarters at 77 Courthouse Drive in Winfield. A greatly summarized version is available online at www.putnamschools.com — in the menu on the left of the home page, go to “Central Office” and click “Finance” and you’ll see a pdf under the heading “General” near the top of the page.
A public hearing will be held 7 p.m. Monday at the Board of Education headquarters, and the board could pass the budget that night.
Reach Ryan Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1254.