March 28, 2014

City budget likely to ice out education

Though final figures won't be available until Monday, adding up what's already been released paints a pretty dire picture for the Board of Education's quest for a big increase this year.
The overall budget would rise to about $190 million if all the spending requests were approved, about $11 million more than expected revenue. To get the necessary funds, the city would have to impose almost a 3-mill hike.
Most of that, of course, is needed to pay for the school increase sought by educators.
On the city side, it appears spending would go up less than the 1.5 percent limit sought by Mayor Ken Cockayne. That probably adds up to about half a mill on top of the 33.50 rate already in place.
But the school requests, if granted, would probably push the overall mill rate to more than 36.
Adding full day kindergarten alone would at least a third of a mill.
So it's not clear what city finance commissioners and council members will do as they begin to pare the figures down in the days ahead.
But Cockayne's vow to hold the line on school spending may get support as officials try to provide enough funding without clobbering taxpayers.
There's a joint workshop session slated for 6 p.m. Monday in the council chambers to go over the numbers and begin discussions about possible reductions to the initial spending plan.
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