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Brandon Board approves budget; building repairs loom

June 26, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- The school board unanimously approved the 2013-2014 budget during a special meeting June 26 with little comment.

Trustee LeAnne Schmidt asked only if the budget was the same one presented during the June 10 public budget hearing which carried the burden of a $621,790 operating deficit.

Jan Meek, executive director of business operations, confirmed that it was indeed the same budget, which has the operating deficit due to $28,161,632 in expenditures, but only $27,539,842 in revenue.

Meek added, "We have some options to fix the $600,000 operating deficit."

She did not expound directly on what those options are; however, she noted that the current budget with the deficit is based on continued decreasing enrollment projections as well as a salary freeze. The board has been in negotiations with the Brandon Education Association. A neutral fact-finder appointed by the state earlier this year to hear arguments from both the BEA and the district, sided with district administration in recommending a 7.5 percent wage cut. If teachers do not agree to the wage cut, the district could still implement the measure.

Without any further action, the money to balance the budget will be taken from the district's fund balance, currently at $1,486,637. Such a move would take the fund balance down to $864,847 by this time next year, or just 3.07 percent. Continued depletion of the fund balance at the current rate would leave the district with a negative fund balance by 2015. The board can not legally adopt a budget with a negative fund balance.

In a building committee meeting prior to the special meeting, Mark Evans, district maintenance, presented some other financial burdens the district can expect to weather this year.

Needed building repairs and additional expenses in the district in 2014 will include an increase of $24,000 for waste water treatment plant operations; $50,000 to switch the air conditioning system from a water cooling system to air cooling at the middle school; $26,380 for boiler repair at the high school and $22,000 to stop the boiler problem from reoccurring; and nearly $10,000 for flat roof repairs.

In all, needed building repairs in the district for 2014 total $189,855 from the list Evans composed.

The list did not mention repairs to the Brandon Aquatic Center roof, which needs to be replaced at an estimated cost of $1 million to the district.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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