Mo Money, Mo Money

As the county 2015-2016 budget process continues, things are looking pretty good. In fact, it looks like the county general may be able to meet a balanced budget. Nearly all elected officials and department heads have worked hard to submit budget requests at the same or below their previous budgets. We could likely see a  proposed balanced budget before long. Unfortunately, that doesn't  seem to be the case for the board of education.

According to media reports, some school board members are wanting to ask the tax payers to give them millions more in the form of a large property tax increase. They claim they must have more money just to "break even". Is that even possible? Here are the numbers. You decide.

Below is a table with a five year comparison of the school boards enrollment, largest revenues sources and fund balances. Every number you see came from the state of Tennessee, either the Department Of Education or the Comptroller's annual audits. These are extremely important numbers that paint a far different picture than some school board members want you to know but their undeniable.

BEP is the Basic Education Program which is the state's main funding source for all Tennessee schools. Local taxes and fund balances come from the Tennessee Comptrollers annual county audit.

Year   BEP Enrollment   State BEP Funding   Increase   Local Taxes   Increase   Ending Fund Balance
2009-2010   5028   $18,883,000.00   $73,193.00   $12,673,274.00   $241,431.00   $3,287,957.00
2010-2011   4998   $18,980,000.00   $246,000.00   $13,336,473.00   $1,101,663.00   $4,190,710.00
2011-2012   4964   $19,032,000.00   $167,000.00   $13,994,163.00   $657,000.00   $6,758,395.00
2012-2013   4926   $19,363,000.00   $293,000.00   $14,040,576.00   $46,413.00   $8,138,606.00
2013-2014   4808   $19,264,000.00   $194,000.00   $13,453,836.00   -$586,740.00   $8,078,480.00
        $95,522,000.00   $973,193.00   $67,498,322.00   $1,459,767.00    

You will notice I did not include the current year in the table. That's because the fiscal year hasn't ended so I don't have actual finals on local taxes or fund balance and I didn't want to use anything but factual numbers. But we do have are the current year BEP numbers below.

Year   BEP Enrollment   State BEP Funding   Increase
2014-2015   4709   $19,299,000.00   $13,000.00

We already have the 2015-2016 BEP funding and enrollment numbers for Loudon County. As you can see below, the state will be providing an additional $428,000.00 in funding next school year.

Year   BEP Enrollment   State BEP Funding   Increase
2015-2016   4678   $19,727,000.00   $428,000.00

Most notable in these numbers is the the continued decline in enrollment and that's a good thing. This is a direct result of not allowing out of county students to attend Loudon County schools.

Bottom line is, enrollment is down nearly 7%. State funding is up 4.5% and local funding is up more than 6%. But the biggest increase is in the fund balance, up 245%. The fund balance, reserve fund, what ever you want to call it, are funds available to the BOE to use pretty much as they want. In fact, they have dipped into the fund balance to balance their budget for the last several years, yet it still increases. This is a clear indication that there is more than enough funding for the BOE. The state strongly suggests that the BOE always keep at least 3% of their operating budget total as a minimum fund balance. That would be a little over a million dollars but the BOE is sitting on more than eight million as of the end of last year.

So, does it look like there's a need for a fifteen or twenty cent property tax increase?

I'm sure there will be those who try to dispute or refute these numbers but if so, they'll have to take it up with the state, not me.