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Improved budget outlook for District 47 ahead of public hearing

CRYSTAL LAKE – Days before its public budget hearing, Crystal Lake School District 47 board members received rare good news from the state that means more than $500,000 extra for next year’s budget.

Kevin Werner, chief financial officer for District 47, told Finance Committee members the state’s decision to prorate general state aid at 88.7 percent is well above his conservative estimate and would result in $619,082 for the district.

The unexpected cash influx is expected to increase the district’s operating fund surplus from an initially projected $182,009 to $644,141. It will help the district turn an overall deficit across the four major funds into a small surplus.

“Many districts were happily surprised with this extra money the state of Illinois was willing to pay us,” he said.

The pleasant surprise came with a familiar reality check.

Werner said the district still was facing a string of deficit spending over the next five years that could total $1.1 million by fiscal 2017-18. Running deficits in the operating fund would go against board policy, although fund balances would be healthy enough to cover the shortfalls.

Board member Ryan Farrell said the board had no intention of following the projected path, and the long-term deficit spending estimates just showed the board still had adjustments to make to meet its fiscal policies.

“The idea isn’t that we’re planning to deficit spend $1.1 million over five years,” he said. “It just gives us an idea what we need to work on to get that into line.”

The board will conduct a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. Monday at the Core Center Central Office, 300 Commerce Drive in Crystal Lake. The board also is expected to vote on the budget after the hearing.

Board members also could consider expanding the district’s procurement card plan. Only Werner and Superintendent Kathy Hinz possess cards to make purchases on behalf of the district, but business administrators recommended issuing cards to the full administrative staff and building principals.

The credit limit would remain at $20,000 total, with principals capped at $500 of that total. District business administrator Sandy Milnor said the cards would be beneficial because staff no longer would have to file purchase orders or use their own personal cards and wait up to 60 days for reimbursement, which does not include sales tax.

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