HPSD approves budget, finishes year 'much better' than anticipated

HPSD approves budget, finishes year 'much better' than anticipated

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Public Schools Board of Trustees approved the district's 2016-2017 budget, and received good news about its current financial state.

"I think it's a good budget," said Sheryle Coaker, interim chief financial officer for Hattiesburg Public Schools. "I think it's a livable budget. It's just one that we obviously have to commit to and make our plan."

The district's 2016-2017 budget is $36,087,078, with the district planning to spend $34,172,029. That means, the district is hoping to save about $2 million to start replenishing its depleted general fund.

"I prepared this budget assuming that we would start with no fund balance, which is, you know, kind of where we are as far as the fund balance we would like to have of course," Coaker said. "If you follow that with the general fund, which is basically our district maintenance fund, like we talked about in the hearing, that we can kind of control, you'll see that our revenues do exceed our expenditures, which should help us start to build our fund balance back up. So this budget projects $1.7 million, depending on how we actually end the year again with the fund balance. We'll put that in there and hopefully that'll build that some."

But according to her preliminary projections, Coaker said she thinks the district finished the last fiscal year a "little better" than anticipated and may have some money in its fund balance to start the 2016-2017 school year.

"The projections, and doing that on my own without going through the software, I think we're going to come out looking much better than we anticipated in cash and in fund balance," Coaker said. "So we should hopefully start the year with some fund balance on hand, so I'm excited about that."

Coaker said the district is planning on borrowing money through a tax anticipation note (TAN) to have enough money to start the school year, but for much less than last year's $7 million note.

"No more than $6 million," she said. "Maybe around $5 million. I would say around $5-$6 million. We've already talked about all of this, but as we continue talks with the banks to be assured that the board has approved or has knowledge that our intention is to try to secure another TAN for the 16-17 year, so this is just approval for us to do that."

Coaker also said the cuts and spending freezes the district implemented throughout the first half of 2016 seemed to be successful, with the district ending under budget in its allotted expenditures.

"As of the end of May, we almost exactly hit our revenues, and on the expenditures, where it says still unexpended $6 million, we've spent approximately $4.3 million of that," Coaker said. "So we were actually under budget in our expenditures, which is of course what we were shooting to do, trying to do with the cuts and the adjustments."

Also, from the district's May financial report, Coaker said the district's fund balance should end the year with about $1 million.

"The fund balance as of the end of May, and you can see that we have a nice, healthy fund balance in general fund," Coaker said. "Of course we had all of our June expenditures that will come out of that, so that $5 million will get reduced back down to a little under a million. It could go up or down a little bit, but much better than we started the year anyway."