HANOVER — It was a bit like Christmas in July for member towns of the South Shore Regional School Committee as the district finished fiscal 2022 with a surplus of about $1.1 million, according to Secretary/Treasurer James Coughlin at the committee’s virtual meeting on Wednesday, July 20.
Assessments for the 2023 fiscal year are being reduced — by $13,486 in Whitman and by $9,074 in Hanson — according to the $740,00 credited from surplus revenue, totaling $65,000 among all eight member communities.
“We haven’t given the towns back any money in a few years because of all these ongoing projects, [but] it was decided that we could give the towns back the $65,000 of our surplus,” Coughlin said.
The $65,000 was being returned proportionally based on each town’s current enrollment, where the motion is based on the three-year rolling numbers to calculate the debt service impact for member towns.
That budget had earmarked $70,000 for debt service and interest payments because it was not known at the time that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) was “coming into the picture.
“Bottom line is we spend about $13 million for the year,” Coughlin said, noting that it was based on debt service calculations using a three-year enrollment average. “The amount of the refunds might be off a little bit.”
One of the nine budget transfers voted on July 20 encumbered $1,016,747.98 from the 2022 non-resident tuition to reduce the 2022-23 assessments to member towns. Hanson will get $9,555 back and Whitman will be refunded $17,328.
“Pretty much, this time of the year, we go through the process about what did the [fiscal] year look like?” Coughlin said. “As you can imagine, during the last month of the year, we’re moving money and spending money where we need it, knowing we have surpluses in various accounts.”
Coughlin noting that the budget is 98-percent closed, with “just a couple of stragglers.” The district was able to place about $103,000 in it’s excess and deficiency account.
Superintendent/director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey said he has been in touch with MSBA that day about when they would be discussing the renovation and expansion project that week. The authority is expected to be in touch in a few weeks to discuss the viability study concerning program and enrollment projections, as the MSBA is waiting for feedback from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) before they begin any bid process for an owner/project manager.
“There is no reasonable timeline to bring this before town meetings in the fall,” Hickey said, indicating that Marshfield is not likely to be joining the district before the fall town meetings.
Hickey recommended lowering FY23 assessments because we would not be borrowing any money in FY23 while going through the MSBA process.
“There’s no reason to charge the towns money that we know we’re not going to spend.”
It was also the first year-end closure for a new payroll clerk, who did a fantastic job, he said. The school’s purchasing agent has also been handling more bids than is usual.
The committee voted unanimously to approve all the warrant transfers sought.
Coughlin reminded members that $14.6 million and brought in about $14.9 million — $319,000 over the budgeted amount. Anticipated expenses were underspent any more than $855,000. The district received $748,000 in regional transportation reimbursement.
The committee also voted to transfer funds to various functions and had $103,000 to invest in the excess and deficiency line item.
“Everything’s in good shape,” he said.
CARES funding for COVID expenses received through Plymouth County held in an enterprise account for the two years the district received still has a balance of $190,000, but as they go through the process of transferring the funds for items in the regular budget closes out the CARES Act funds, and invoiced all member towns for their share district’s costs, holding that in an enterprise account for the two years CARES Act funds were being received.
Teacher pay for the summer is part of the June expenditures — a little over $2 million, that reflects summer payroll, with a larger than normal number of people requesting lump-sum salaries in June.
A couple of them are retiring, and not returning in the fall, he explained.
Among other transfers approved was the shifting of $740,000 never spent to surplus revenue because issues such as supply chain delays that affected long-range planning.
“We’re putting this money back in the pot,’ Coughlin said. Still another transfer involved $920,000 from surplus revenue for the purchase of property in order to expand the campus to allow the expansion and renovation process to continue easier. They also encumbered $387,000 from surplus revenue to begin that expansion work and $230,000 for building renovations and repairs — including expansion of the cafeteria, upgrading security doors and paving/sidewalk upgrades, among other work. Another transfer was for $114,000 to purchase equipment and supplies.