School board approves 2016-17 budget in split vote
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs Board of Education voted 3-2 Friday to approve a budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Board members Roger Good and Joey Andrew voted against the proposed budget, citing their discomfort with a $160,000 deficit that is part of the budget.
The district and board made several cuts for the upcoming year’s budget, which were necessary to bring down an approximate $500,000 deficit included in the 2015-16 budget and a reduction in available funds from the Education Fund, as well as to offset increased health insurance and retirement costs and step salary increases for eligible employees.
Board members Margie Huron, Michelle Dover and Sam Rush voted in favor of the budget.
Huron said the deficit had been reduced greatly year to year — by a margin of about 64 percent — adding she didn’t think there was significant opposition to the deficit spending last year.
“There was no concern last year,” Huron said.
For 2016-17, the district will operate on a general fund budget of about $25 million, and the approved budget will reduce reserves from $7.78 million to $7.62 million. Because school districts receive different pools of revenue at different times of the year, the district’s fund balance will drop as low as $2 million at some points during the year.
Andrew said that, in light of a recent budget crisis facing the South Routt School District, he was learning a greater appreciation for reserves.
“I’m just merely saying that I truly value our reserves,” Andrew said. “I really do appreciate that buffer, and that’s why I’ll be voting ‘no.’”
Good agreed with Andrew, saying the financial issues in South Routt, caused by a missed property tax payment from Peabody Energy, could lead to “an influx of students” moving from South Routt to Steamboat.
“I’m concerned about spending into a deficit. I’m even more concerned with the news as it’s related to our school district down south,” Good said.
Dover said, in the future, she’d like the board and the community to become more involved in the decisions made during the budget process and to be presented with more choices.
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