Public schools officials in Peoria are looking for ways to avoid another budget crunch.
District 150's new Chief Financial Officer, Mark Wilcockson, says a budget committee may help the District stay ahead of fiscal problems like the one it faces now. D150 expects to end the current fiscal year with an operating fund deficit of $12.25 million. The district ended its last fiscal year $5.7 million in the hole.
The committee, Wilcockson says, will be made up of District personnel from both the financial and educational sides.
"To make sure that things in the budget are priorities, but also to make sure that they're aware of the limitations of the budget," Wilcockson said.
He says the committee will also start looking at the District's financial picture earlier each year. Currently, budget development starts ramping up in May and June.
"That's way too late to make staffing and program decisions," he said. "So, the plan is to start around October and, you know, plan ahead."
The latest budget gap isn't the result of increased expenses. Wilcockson says District expenditures have remained relatively flat over the past few years. Spending for salaries and benefits, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the district's expenditures, is among the more significant increases at $961,000.
However, waning property tax revenue and a significant decrease in state funding have countered cost-saving efforts. He says the good news is that it looks like property values in Peoria are starting to rebound.
Wilcockson delivered a presentation of the budget to the Board of Education on Monday night. The budget is also on public display at the administration building the next 30 days before the school board formally votes to approve the spending plan during its September 22 meeting.