Huntington School Board members have voted 6-0 to confirm allocations of surplus monies from the 2016/17 budget to the district’s reserve funds.
Trustees took the action during a public meeting on Tuesday, September 26 in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium. Creation of each of the funds is authorized by state law. Some of the funds also required the approval of district residents.
Consistent with advice from the Office of State Comptroller, the district is drawing down most of its reserve funds. With the exception of the overall balance held in the district’s capital reserve funds and the much smaller repair reserve, the balances in each of the remaining funds is was lower on June 30, 2017 than it was a year earlier.
“Our current reserve balances and allocations are based on a sound long-term reserve plan, and reflect the needs of the district and Comptroller recommendations,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “They have contributed to a glowing external audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.”
The district currently has three separate overlapping capital reserve funds, which residents authorized during public votes in 2008, 2013 and 2017. As of June 30, 2017, the 2008 fund contained $385,832 while the 2013 fund had a balance of $7,289,604. Residents voted to allow trustees to transfer up to $2 million annually for a total capitalization of $10 million for each fund.
The 2017 capital reserve fund had a balance of $672,114 as of June 30. There is no annual cap on the amount of surplus monies that can be transferred into the fund, but there is a lifetime limit of $12,500,000.
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 $3,185,464. 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 $4,866,923. 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 $2,363,148. 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 $362,912. 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 $250,654. It helps cover unemployment insurance claims submitted by employees who have been separated from service to the district.
The district is using $1,400,000 from its fund balance to help hold down property taxes during the 2017/18 fiscal year. It’s the lowest such fund balance appropriation in many years, which is also consistent with advice offered to the district by the Office of State Comptroller.
Huntington’s unassigned fund balance is $5,048,529. 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.