Brown’s budget could equate to voluntary $1.3 million cut for Truckee/Tahoe school district |

Brown’s budget could equate to voluntary $1.3 million cut for Truckee/Tahoe school district

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. – Though initial forecasts from Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget show a reprieve in K-12 education cuts, school district officials are still on high alert, considering the result of special elections in June could spell an additional $1.3 million in local reductions.

At Wednesday night’s Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board workshop, Superintendent of Finance Steve Dickinson reported that if special tax elections in June fail – elections to extend state hikes for income, sales and vehicle taxes for five years, generating an estimated $12 billion for the state – the school district is likely to see cuts of $330 per child.

That equates to about $1.3 million, which would need to be reduced on top of the $2.25 million the district already expects to cut by March 15 for the 2011-12 budget.

“The bad news is mounting up,” Dickinson said. “I wait for the day when I can tell you good news but it’s not this year and it’s not the next.”

The potential cuts, Dickinson said, would come through the ironically dubbed “Fair Share Cut,” a voluntary reduction made by state property tax revenue districts such as TTUSD to fend off a possible state raid of property tax revenues.

It’s a move being considered by the state legislature and one Dickinson estimated previously to potentially cost the district $10 million, which would happen should TTUSD be forced to transform from a Basic Aid district – where the majority of revenue comes from property taxes – to a Revenue Limit district, where the majority of revenue comes from state funding.

“Everything about the governor’s budget hinges on special elections in June,” he said, before cautioning trustees: “Hoping that the special elections pass is not a financial plan.”

If the elections are unsuccessful, Dickinson said the school district would be forced into three options:

• Make mid-year cuts,

• Use more of the district’s reserves; or

• Make deeper cuts for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Dickinson has said previously more cuts are already estimated for 2011-12 due to declining property tax revenues.

“I don’t know if the board is going to want to go back to the drawing board on the $2.25 million cuts; frankly, it will be pretty late in the process,” Dickinson said. “But eventually, it will force us to go back to the drawing board with either mid-year reductions – and certainly we’ll have to reconsider our financial position and start planning for the following year to a probably greater extent.”

He added there shouldn’t be any expectation of additional federal funding like the district received this year by way of the Obama administration’s $750,000 in one-time jobs funding.

Another possible scenario of the governor’s budget cuts – should the special election fail – is the state retroactively collecting roughly $900,000 in uncollected “Fair Share Cuts” from this year, Dickinson said.

“I believe there is an outside chance the legislature could go retroactive and make a mid-year cut on 2011-12 as late as June if those special elections fail,” Dickinson said. “They could go backwards and make an additional cut.”

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