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Sumter School District expects to add $4.4M for year to general fund; CFO says any savings will help in tight upcoming year

BY BRUCE MILLS bruce@theitem.com
Posted 7/10/20

With higher-than-anticipated tax collections, increased state revenue and less expenditures, Sumter School District is now estimating an additional $1.1 million in net income. But savings could be needed soon, given the sluggish economy.

District …

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Sumter School District expects to add $4.4M for year to general fund; CFO says any savings will help in tight upcoming year

Posted

With higher-than-anticipated tax collections, increased state revenue and less expenditures, Sumter School District is now estimating an additional $1.1 million in net income. But savings could be needed soon, given the sluggish economy.

District Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Miller and other administrators reviewed the May monthly financial reports on Thursday with the district board of trustees' advisory Finance Committee in another virtual meeting amid the pandemic.

The added $1.1 million now projects the district's annual net income for 2019-20 at $4.4 million, Miller said, raising the general fund balance to $18.7 million.

Local tax collection revenue from Sumter County to the district for fiscal 2020 - which ended June 30 - has been increased by $588,000 since the April financial report due to deferred taxes collected during the fall, she said. In her analysis, Miller said that was money that was supposed to be collected in the prior year but was actually received one year later. The late collections threw off fiscal 2020 budgeted tax revenue projections.

In May, the district also received about $238,000 in additional state revenue based on its professional certified staff levels in the spring, Miller said.

On the expenditure side, the district has now adjusted down expenses by about $180,000, largely due to less payroll in the form of salaries and benefits. Payroll represents about 85% to 90% of school districts' annual budgets and is generally the hardest indicator to gauge.

At the conclusion of her report, Miller said she anticipates the $4.4 million addition to the general fund in fiscal '20 will likely be needed this upcoming fiscal year, given expected state revenue reductions and increased mandatory expenditures. Those will be likely outcomes for school districts, she said, due to a depressed year for the state's economy in 2020, given COVID-19.

"As we have been able to increase our fund balance by being fiscally responsible," Miller said, "we are positioning the district to be able to handle a financial situation - such as a revenue reduction - that we may face next year."