COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Centreville Public Schools Business Manager Phillip Heasley discusses proposed budget amendments to the district’s general fund during the CPS Board of Education meeting Monday.

Centreville BOE approves budget amendments

Includes $132k decrease due to ‘tax value reporting error’ by county

Published Jan. 29, 2020

 

CENTREVILLE — The Centreville Public Schools Board of Education passed several budget amendments during its regular meeting Monday, which included a $132,000 decrease in state revenue.

The budget amendments were presented by CPS Business Manager Phillip Heasley, who gave a breakdown of the amendments and where the changes came from. Board President Jeff Troyer said the budget amendments after the fall count are required “to align with the current forecast for the district.”

The original budget passed by the board called for $8,509,028 in revenues and $8,373,237 in expenses, for a total revenues over expenses of $135,792. The revised budget Heasley presented called for $8,476,362 in total revenue—a $32,666 decrease—and $8,621,247 in expenses—a $248,000 increase—for total expenses over revenues of $144,885.

Heasley explained there were some increases in revenue. Those mainly came from a $90,000 increase in local taxable value, a $33,000 increase in foundation allowance from the state, and a $22,000 increase due to the Career Technical Education millage.

However, the big change in revenue came from a $132,000 decrease due to what Heasley called a “tax value reporting error” by county officials while reporting “capture value” to the state to determine funding.

“Essentially, there’s a website that the county treasurer’s office uses to report taxable value to the state, so that the state is using numbers to determine our per-pupil funding,” Heasley said. “The total taxable value the county was reporting was in error; they assumed they were supposed to report capture value one way, the state was looking for it in a different way.”

Heasley explained to the board the inaccurate numbers had been reported by the county over the last three years, and has affected many other school districts in the county.

“The state, for at least three years, was sending not just Centreville but other school districts in the county too much state aid based on the tax revenues we were collecting locally,” Heasley said. “It did impact other school districts, some to a much larger degree.”

Heasley said he discovered the error in November, and wasn’t sure when or how it was discovered by the county. He added the errors were “corrected” going back four years, and the $132,000 was the “retroactive adjustment” for the last four years. Troyer said the decrease was discussed “significantly” during the board’s finance committee meeting, and said the district will not have to pay the state back due to the error.

“The decrease in the revenue is because they simply won’t distribute the state aid this year that they would have,” Troyer said. “So really, we’re not paying that money back, just not distributing the revenue.”

“Normally, there are small adjustments in taxable value, and it can change from principal residence to non-principal, and we’ll always see small adjustments, just not $132,000,” Heasley said. “That reporting situation has been corrected. The treasurer’s office met with the county business managers, and explained—not in great detail—how it happened and how it was corrected.”

St. Joseph County Deputy Treasurer Kathy Humphreys said in an interview with the Commercial-News Tuesday the cause of the error was because of how their system was pulling taxable values.

“There was a change in how the report was pulling figures that caused some capture values to show up, and we didn’t realize it was causing a problem until auditors kept calling me last fall,” Humphreys said. “It was a matter of some DDA districts that were set up incorrectly in the system also that we were unaware of. It has all been taken care of, and shouldn’t happen again.”

Humphreys added the errors had been occurring in only the past year and a half, but it affected four different tax years, which is why the retroactive adjustments covered the last four years, going back to 2015.

“It didn’t happen over a four year period of time, it only happened within a year and a half,” Humphreys said. “When there’s adjustments done to the tax rolls because of border reviews or Michigan tax renewals, or anything like that, it can affect prior years, there’s adjustments happening even to prior tax years.”

The biggest expense increases came from an $85,000 compensation increase with teachers and classroom aides on their contract, $56,000 for an additional elementary classroom teacher, and a $51,000 increase because of a tractor purchase by the district, which was approved last month.

With the $144,885 projected revenues over expenses, the projected fund balance at the end of the fiscal year at the end of June would decrease to $1,286,036, approximately 15 percent of total expenditures.

In other business…

  • The board received a presentation from the Centreville FFA’s Junior High Conduct and Meeting Team, which included a run-through of a mock meeting and judging before the team goes to an upcoming competition.
  • The board renewed the contracts of football coach Tyler Langs, volleyball coach Deric Mostrom and cross country coach Rob Collins for the 2020-21 fall sports season.
  • The board approved the second reading of a multitude of board policies.
  • The board recognized Centreville Elementary School sixth grade teacher Marcy Emmendorfer for receiving a grant for microscopes for the school.
  • The board approved the retirement of longtime alternative education teacher and jail program coordinator Juanita Miller, effective July 1.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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