By EDWARD HUSARHerald-Whig Staff Writer
The Quincy School Board on Wednesday unveiled a tentative $70.3 million budget containing a $1.56 million deficit.
Business Manager Joel Murphy said the district's total direct revenues are projected to come in at $68.7 million. That's a 1.91 percent drop from last year. Most of the decline came from a 0.34 percent falloff in state funding and a 10.3 percent drop in federal funds. Local revenues -- primarily property taxes -- are up 0.64 percent.
Murphy said a big part of the deficit involves life-safety projects and other construction work totaling $1.3 million. He said about $900,000 in revenue for those projects is not reflected in the 2014-15 budget because the money arrived last fiscal year and is sitting in the district's bank account, waiting to be used this year.
Murphy said the four key operating funds controlled by the School Board -- education, operation and maintenance, transportation, and working cash -- are essentially balanced, with a projected $56.48 million in revenue and $56.38 million in expenses. He said expenses in those four funds are down about 4.8 percent.
The board will hold a public hearing on the budget and likely will adopt the spending plan at its Sept. 24 meeting.
In other action Wednesday, the board extended Superintendent Steve Cobb's three-year contract by one year and awarded him a 2 percent pay increase. His annual salary is now $183,600.
Cobb's salary and contract adjustments were approved on a 5-1 vote, with Melvin "Bud" Niekamp casting the only opposition -- even though he seconded the motion to make the changes. Richard McNay was absent.
Niekamp said he likes Cobb and thinks he's doing a great job, but he didn't want to give a raise to someone already earning $180,000 a year.
"I told the people what I would do, and I have to keep my word," he said. "He's the best superintendent we've had, and I've been on the School Board for almost 25 years. If I had my way, I'd probably extend his contract for three more years instead of just one."
The board also approved a five-year contract with Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union. School Board member Scott Stone, the district's lead negotiator, said the contract calls for annual raises averaging about 2 percent a year, although the actual amount given to each employee will vary depending on the position and the employee's length of service.
The union has already ratified the agreement, which replaces a previous two-year contract that expired June 30.
In other action, the Quincy School Board:
º Agreed to buy a fire-damaged building at 515 S. 17th for $17,500 to use as a rebuilding project for students in the Quincy Area Vocational-Technical Center's construction classes. Students will completely rebuild the main floor from the walls up and put a new roof on the building. The vo-tech center will sell the house once the project is completed in two years.
º Awarded 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.
º Awarded a $93,335 contract to Midland Paper for copier paper. Midland was one of four companies submitting bids.