By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Quincy School Board on Wednesday will unveil a tentative 2014-15 budget that's expected to be similar to last year's spending plan.
Business Manager Joel Murphy told the Finance Committee on Tuesday that he's still adjusting the tentative budget to reflect the receipt of grants. However, he expects the finished document to look much like last year's budget, which totaled $70.4 million when presented in August 2013.
That budget was subsequently amended in June of this year to reflect $73.1 million in direct expenditures, with most of the increase resulting from higher costs involving a change in the district's health insurance program.
"We're trying to work it about the same," Murphy said. "We're actually looking at about an $80,000 drop in general state aid, so we're trying to keep it within that same range."
The School Board is expected to adopt the tentative budget at its regular monthly meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Berrian School gym, 1327 S. Eighth. The budget will be put on display for 30 days before the board finalizes the document at its Sept. 24 meeting. A public hearing will be held before adoption.
In other action, the Finance Committee endorsed a proposal to hire PMA Securities to provide financial advisory services in connection with the proposed sale of $89 million in general obligation bonds for facilities. The School Board agreed last week to put the bond issue before voters in the Nov. 4 election.
Murphy said PMA Securities would serve as an independent financial advisor to the district on all bond-related matters if the issue is approved by voters.
He said the district will need some expert advice if the bond issue moves forward.
"Financing through bonds can be very complicated with lots of little nuances," Murphy said.
In the past, the school district typically worked directly with various bond underwriters to handle the sale of bonds, but it was difficult to tell if the underwriters were acting in the best interest of the district or themselves.
Under a 2010 federal law, PMA Securities -- as a financial advisor -- would have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the school district and would be empowered to shop for the best deals with various underwriters.
Finance Committee Chairman Richard McNay calculated PMA's fee would total around $247,000. There would be bond underwriter fees on top of that. However, Murphy noted that PMA's fees would only kick in if the bond issue is approved and moves forward.
The committee also:
º Endorsed a proposal to award the district's 2014-15 fuel contract to Petroleum Traders, which submitted the only bid. The company offered to sell fuel to the district at three different escalating prices based on grade: $2.8839 per gallon for unleaded; $3.118 per gallon for B-11 L-2 diesel; and $3.143 per gallon for 50 percent B-11 L-2 diesel.
º Endorsed a proposal to award a $93,335 contract to Midland Paper for copier paper. Midland was one of four companies submitting bids.
º Met Ryan Whicker, the district's new assistant business manager.