Finance

Finance Committee members listen Monday as Quincy Public Schools Chief of Business Operations Ryan Whicker, center, reviews the tentative budget. The $85.7 million balanced budget includes salary and benefit increases tied to the collective bargaining agreement.

QUINCY — Quincy Public Schools is looking at a balanced budget for the 2021-22 year.

Chief of Business Operations Ryan Whicker reviewed the tentative $85.7 million spending plan Monday with the Finance Committee.

“It will be fluid for the next month until we solidify some of the estimates,” Whicker said. “From the outset, it does look very positive.”

Cash flow 8% through the current fiscal year is the best Whicker has ever seen thanks to a larger-than-usual first installment of property taxes provided to the district.

Projections “show us finishing the year way ahead. That’s not going to happen,” Whicker said. “We are going to have a good year, I project, but not that good.”

In the tentative budget, revenue outpaces expenditures in the district’s four main operation funds — Education, Operations and Maintenance, Transportation and Working Cash — growing year-end balances.

Whicker said the overall budget incorporates the 3% salary, 1% of the employee share of Teacher Retirement System, or TRS, benefit and 0.5% of the employee share of Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund benefit increases called for in the collective bargaining agreement and a 10% increase in health insurance costs.

The Education Fund, the district’s largest, also posts increases of $501,000 in local property tax revenue, $379,000 in state evidence-based funding and $2.8 million in federal funding.

The key difference, Whicker said, is federal funding tied to the COVID-19.

“That’s really what’s going to drive this really good budget and budgets in the future for the next couple years until we fully expend that,” Whicker said. “It’s a one-time shot.”

Two rounds of federal funding, with a third still to come, can cover a variety of expenses tied to the pandemic from personal protective equipment to helping kids catch up who may have fallen behind in school — including items already covered by the budget.

Committee member Alan Steigelman warned against doing too much while the budget numbers look promising.

“It’s making the budget look really, really good right now. Let’s not get lulled into the idea we can do lots more because there’s an end to it,” Steigelman said.

“The committee needs to understand for the next two or three years, it’s going to skew what our typical dollars would be with local tax dollars and typical state dollars,” Superintendent Roy Webb said. “We’ll be conservative, try to build up fund balances.”

Earlier budget projections showed the school district with a deficit budget starting with the 2021-22 year due to mandated minimum teacher salary and minimum wage increases.

“We have to prepare ourselves for future years when we may not have revenue to offset expenditures,” Whicker said.

The budget will be adopted by the School Board in September after a public hearing.

Also Monday, committee co-chair Carol Nichols, a School Board member, reminded members that state funding provides 25% of the district’s budget. Schools that lose recognition tied to defying the state’s mask mandate risk losing state funding — or some $21 million in Quincy Public Schools.

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