D86 approves budget that just might change

Drafting a $117 million budget in these uncertain times is an art and a science.

With the unknowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, anticipating expenses for the 2020-21 fiscal year in Hinsdale High School District 86 is even more of a challenge.

“Obviously we have a significant number of unknowns this year as we operate either in a remote or hybrid environment,” Josh Stephenson, chief financial officer, said at the Sept. 10 board meeting. “I wouldn’t say that is where I expect us to end the year.”

The board approved the budget Sept. 24 following a public hearing at which no one spoke. The spending plan predicts revenues of $118.3 million and expenses of $116.8 million, leaving a $1.4 million surplus.

The district saw a $1.2 million surplus at the end of FY 2019-20, largely due to the pandemic, which caused all students to move to remote learning in March.

“The budgets last year were significantly under spent,” Stephenson said. “Due to the school shutdown, a lot of supplies were not consumed. A lot of travel was not consumed.

“Just take that into account,” he advised board members. “We did not have a typical school year.”

Property tax revenues are expected to increase about $11 million, or 13 percent, to $95.7 million. This increase reflects $9.6 million levied to begin repayment of the $139.8 million referendum voters approved in April 2019.

State and federal revenues remain essentially flat and interest income is down, due to the drop in interest rates, Stephenson said.

Revenues include two new grants. The $267,000 C.A.R.E.S. grant provides funding for personal protective equipment and COVID-19 related expenses. The $50,000 Illinois School Maintenance Grant provides funding for life-safety projects.

On the expense side, salaries continue to be the largest line item in the budget at almost $57.9 million. Salaries for the district’s 603.3 full-time equivalents are projected to increase only $20,000 this year.

The cost of benefits will rise almost $500,000, from about $24.9 million to $25.5 million.

“Benefits are fairly stable,” Stephenson said of the 2 percent increase.

The budget includes $50.6 million in proceeds anticipated from the third and final bond sale related to the referendum, which will take place this month. The budget also includes $36 million in design and construction expenses.

“Obviously with a multi-year project it doesn’t always fit neatly inside of the fiscal year,” Stephenson aid. “If there are any large variations, we may have to do an amended budget, similar to what we did last year, for the construction expenses.”

The budget can be viewed online at https://d86.hinsdale86.org, under the business department tab.

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean