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Parkway set to vote on 2016 budget

Preliminary budget assumptions for the 2016 fiscal year, which began July 1, 2015 and ends June 30, 2016, show revenues estimated to be at $255,184,336 and expenditures projected at $267,718,718 for the Parkway School District.

Those figures compare to actual 2015 fiscal year total revenues of $320,535,025 and total expenses of $276,300,896.

Those figures were among budget projections presented to the Board of Education on Dec. 9. A vote on approval of those assumptions is set for the Jan. 13 board meeting, though formal board adoption of the 2016-2017 budget won’t take place until June.

Patty Bedborough, the district’s chief financial officer, told the board that, over the past few years, the district has had to pay back more than $8 million in protested tax settlements, which she said has “highly impacted our ability to build fund balances.”

However, Bedborough said forecasts for operating revenue show a local property tax revenue annual increase of 1.5 percent per year for the coming four years after the 2016 fiscal year. A projected decrease following the 2016 fiscal year is due to a one-time recoupment in the 2016 fiscal year, she said. For that year, Parkway was eligible to take up to $6.4 million recoupment on the residential tax rate. Recoupment allows a one-time change in the tax rate, without voter approval, allowing the district to maintain a certain level of income.

For the first time in a number of years, the district’s reserve operating fund balance, in the 2016 fiscal year, is expected to be over the 17.3 percent of annual revenues Board of Education goal.

An estimate of annual salary increases of 1.2 percent is among assumptions for operating expenditures over the next five years.

Enrollment projections show that total student numbers of 17,348 estimated for the 2015-2016 school year are set to grow to a total of 17,937 in the 2020-2021 school year, though those projections don’t yet include 200 or more students likely to come from a planned large residential development in the River Bend area of Maryland Heights.

Parkway is anticipating its next school bus purchase to be bid during the 2016-2017 school year, but buses won’t be delivered until the 2017-2018 school year. The estimated 12 new buses will use compressed natural gas fuel, which will allow the use of grants to aid in the purchase.

“Our recent fuel savings have been spectacular,” Bedborough told the board. “We budget at about $3 per gallon but our latest fueling was at $1.4499 per gallon, a 50 percent savings which will be placed in the capital projects fund to help fund new buses.”

Through a contract with Kelly Sports Marketing, new electronic scoreboards are being installed at high schools – one is already in at Parkway North and boards at Parkway Central and Parkway West are to be finished in mid-January. So far, advertising on those boards will generate $730,000 in funding from various firms, with more contracts being sought, Bedborough said.

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