Vicksburg Warren school board OKs $84.89 million operating budget for 2019

Published 6:08 pm Saturday, July 28, 2018

Vicksburg Warren School District trustees have approved an $84.85 million operating budget for the 2019 fiscal year featuring no change in the district’s millage revenue needs for the year.

Finance director Shaquita Burke said the district will request $30.470 million in ad valorem tax revenue for the new fiscal year, the same amount the school district sought for fiscal 2018.

“It’s not a reduction in millage, because we don’t set the millage,” she said, “What we’re requesting is less than what we would actually need to keep our millage level.”

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The current school district millage rate is 53.58 mills and set by the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

Burke, however, said the district will request a millage increase in March when the first note on its capital improvements bond issue, totaling $2.30 million, comes due on March 2019.

“That is included in my ad valorem request, and it is projected to raise about 4.05 mills,” she said.

The combination for the board’s request and its request for extra millage to meet the bond payment shows a net increase of 3.93 mills, she said.

Burke said the district expects to close fiscal 2018 with an additional $1.2 million in the fund balance and asked the trustees to use the additional money for needs in the district.

“There are things across the district; there are needs based on meetings with various department heads; district-wide instructional things that principals asked for,” she said, adding the requests district-wide totaled $1.06 million. She asked the trustees to the approve the requests, which would have “a zero net effect on our fund balance.”

Trustee Jim Stirgus Jr. questioned the wisdom of using the surplus.

“Normally, when you have a surplus, I never heard of you spending all the surplus at one time,” he said as he looked a list of propose items.

“I’m looking at some wants, looking at some needs, and then some things that don’t need to be on here, in my opinion.”

He questioned the need to purchase several new vehicles for different school district departments.

“We’re going to become a used car lot after a while, in my opinion, because we already have cars out there now,” he said.

Burke said the trustees had done a good job with its finances.

“This was the one year where instead of putting the money back and let it sit in our bank account and grow, take that money and put it to somewhere where we can see the growth,” Burke said.

“We’re not promised this surplus next year, so because we see it now, this will be the time to go ahead and do what we need to do, because we don’t know what will happen next year.

“We may not have the opportunity to do this (improvements) next year. We may break even or have a negative (deficit) next year depending on what happens with funding or expenditures, you just don’t know.”

The board voted 3-1 to approve the budget and spend the surplus, with Stirgus opposing.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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