Huntington School Board members have voted unanimously to strengthen the district’s reserve funds by allocating surplus monies from the 2015/16 budget to the accounts. The action was taken during a public meeting this past Monday night in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium.
“The Board has acted in a particularly responsible manner for many years regarding use of and contributions to the district’s various reserve funds,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “While many of the reserve funds are currently underfunded respective to the maximum positions outlined in the reserve plan, the Board and administration have carefully allocated funds in a manner that would allow the district to address unanticipated cost increases in each area.”
This past Monday evening, trustees transferred $260,000 to the Employee Benefits and Accrued Liabilities Reserve Fund, $112,180 to the Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund and $40,000 to the Repair Reserve Fund.
Several other reserve funds were previously bolstered last June, including a $2 million allocation to the Capital Serve Fund and allocations of $950,000 to the Employee Benefits and Accrued Liabilities Reserve Fund, $500,000 to the Workers’ Compensation Reserve Fund and $1.3 million to the Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund.
There is currently a balance of $796,177 in the 2008 Capital Reserve Fund and $7,002,071 in the 2013 Capital Reserve Fund. Both funds were previously authorized by district residents, who voted to allow the transfer up to $2 million annually for a total capitalization of $10 million for each fund.
Maintaining a well-funded capital reserve allows the district to avoid borrowing and incurring interest costs to upgrade its facilities. These monies can only be used for capital projects, including new school roofs, windows, doors, boilers, facility improvements, etc. Completed projects are eligible for state aid. District residents must approve any expenditure of funds.
The Employee Benefits Accrued Liability Reserve Fund’s balance is now $3,496,043. The monies are cover the cost of unused accumulated leave time that is contractually provided to certain groups of employees when they separate from the district and are entitled to such payment.
The Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund’s balance is now $4,959,971. It is used to pay expenses related to the district’s obligation to the New York State Employees Retirement System.
The Workers’ Compensation Reserve Fund’s balance is now $2,859,140. It is used to pay actual claims related to employee medical costs and self-insurance administrative expenses. It cannot be used to pay for premiums.
The Repair Reserve Fund’s balance now stands at $322,460. The purpose of the account is fund unanticipated, non-recurring repairs related to capital improvements, facilities and equipment.
The Unemployment Insurance Payment Reserve Fund’s balance is $275,268. It helps cover unemployment insurance claims submitted by employees who have been separated from service to the district.
The district is using $1,708,214 from its fund balance to help hold down property taxes during the 2016/17 fiscal year. Huntington’s unassigned fund balance is $4,924,011. These funds are unrestricted and may be used for any valid purpose.
A copy of Huntington’s reserve fund plan is posted on the district website at www.joshuacarnes.info. The plan includes a history of each fund, including its purpose, funding level and uses.