D86 board eyes proposed FY25 budget

Hinsdale High School District 86 Board members are poised to approve a tentative budget of $136.8 million for fiscal year 2025.

At the June 13 committee of the whole meeting, Josh Stephenson, the district's chief financial officer, told the four board members in attendance the proposed spending plan is a balanced one with revenues projected to virtually match expenditures. Expenditures would be 3.8 percent more than the $131.8 million outlay for fiscal year 2024. The revenues forecast represent a 2.4 percent increase year over year.

Salaries and benefits comprise the largest portion of spending at $69.8 million and $25.9 million, respectively (see chart). Those amounts are governed by contractual obligations, although Stevenson said the district's health insurance costs have trended favorably despite inflationary pressures.

"Our claims have been very good and that's really contained a lot of the increases that I know other districts have experienced," Stephenson said.

He said transportation and utility expenses, however, have been on the rise. The district saw a 4.45 percent increase in its transportation contract for the coming year, going from $5.8 million in 2024 to nearly $6.1 million. Utility costs are projected to jump from $820,000 to $916,000, a difference of 11.7 percent.

"The big items driving the non-personnel side are the transportation and some of the utility costs that are kind of moving at a faster pace than our revenue growth," Stephenson said, noting state funding in particular has not kept up.

The district expects to spend $3.8 million on summer construction, down from just over $4 million this past year, and $792,733 in capital outlay related to the 2019 referendum, for items such as new furniture, a drop from $1.1 million. But a scheduled replacement of computers and related equipment means an increase in information technology costs to $798,259 from $707,130.

On the revenue side, Stephenson explained how property taxes and the consumer price index are driving factors.

"The district is predominantly funded by local revenue sources, a majority of that being funded through property taxes increases year over year from the CPI increase and new construction," he said,

Some federal grants aren't included in the tentative budget but will be in the final budget once those amounts become clearer later this summer. And Stevenson said the predicted fall in interest rates would impact the return on district investments.

"We're budgeting for the year not anticipating having interest earnings at current interest rates. We're expecting somewhat of a decline over the next 12-month period," he said

Board member Jeff Waters inquired about the projected 25 percent drop in replacement tax revenue from $2.7 million last year to $2 million in 2024. Stevenson acknowledged difficulty in pinpointing the amount, which is paid by the state to replace money local taxing bodies lose because they can't impose personal property taxes on corporations.

"Our understanding is this is on a downward trajectory. We just don't know exactly what that will be, and so we are looking for some guidance," he said.

A public hearing on the tentative budget will be held at the June 27 business meeting, after which the board is expected to vote on its approval. The final budget is scheduled for adoption at the board's Sept. 26 meeting.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean