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Schools expect sales taxes to decline in Ď14 budget

By Kyle Barnett -   Jun 20, 2013

St. Charles Parish Public Schools has released its interim 2014 annual budget projection and the school system anticipates running a small deficit for the year.

The overall budget for fiscal year 2014 forecasts $129,088,687 in revenue and $130,815,388 in expenditures.

Last yearís projected budget for fiscal year 2013 was $126.4 million when first introduced, which grew to $128.2 by the end of the school year.

Anticipated spending increases for fiscal year 2014 include $2.7 million in instructional programs and $91,750 in food services.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rodney Lafon said the projected budget is purposefully conservative.

"We are really approaching FY2014 very conservatively to ensure that financial stability of the school district is in place. With current revenue sources we are able to maintain existing programs and thatís extremely important," he said.

The main collections decreases in the 2014 budget are in the Minimum Foundation Program and collection of local sales taxes.

Jim Melohn, chief financial and administrative officer for the district, said sales taxes are returning to normal after being inflated for the past few years.

"Weíve had historically high sales tax collections the past two years. It has been tremendous. Thatís due to a lot of expansions going on at the plants," he said.

During expansions, industrial facilities make more purchases.

Due to most of the industrial construction projects wrapping up, sales tax revenues are dropping.

"Weíve seen it for the last two or three months, the monthly (sales tax) collections have gone down significantly. A lot of those expansions have come to an end. Probably for the next couple of years we are going to see a reduction in the amount we are receiving in sales tax," Melohn said.

The decrease in Minimum Foundation Funds was due to budget cuts at the state level.

"With more reductions by the state the burden falls more on us, the local revenue, to keep us increasing our costs," Lafon said.

Lafon encouraged the School Board to closely follow future movement within the state legislature.

"Cuts to the Minimum Foundation Program will reduce revenue by $2 million. I want to say that again, by over $2 million. I wonder sometimes about how the legislation and the legislature deals with that, but anyhow thatís something you guys and lady are going to have to stay on top of," he said.

The biggest change in the projected 2014 budget in comparison to the 2013 budget is an increase in instructional funds, which is seeing a $2.7 million increase from $92.7 million in fiscal year 2013 to $95.4 million in fiscal year 2014.

"Overall the increases are in the instructional areas. Thatís important for this board to be able to go out and say in the public that the increases are in the instructional areas," he said.

Of that $2.7 million in instructional spending increases, a portion will go towards one-time bonuses and salary raises for educators.

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