Schools already looking at raises for next year | NevadaAppeal.com
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Schools already looking at raises for next year

TERI VANCE
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Bob Anderson, director of fiscal services, explains a portion of Carson City School District's budget Tuesday afternoon. He is starting work on next year's tentative budget, to be submitted April 15.
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The Carson City School District will spend $52.3 million this year on salaries, benefits and taxes – $950,000 more than last year.

A 2 percent raise, which has become the source of conflict between employees and district officials, would cost an additional $800,000, according to district finance director Bob Anderson.

Although the money was appropriated by the Legislature, Anderson said it was consumed by other costs, including an 8 percent increase in health-care benefits, increased retirement benefits and salary schedule increases.

“We’re not saying we have less money,” he said. “The amount of revenue we have, even though it is increasing, is not increasing as much as expenditures.”

According to the design of the school district’s pay schedule, employees receive a 5 percent raise for each year of service up to 10 years.

Salary also increases according to educational credits earned during an employee’s first 16 years.

For example, a first-year teacher with only a bachelor’s degree is paid $27,144. The most a teacher in Carson City can be paid is $53,048 after earning a master’s degree and working for at least 16 years. After that, teachers receive raises only if granted by the school district.

The three main sources of revenue for the school district are sales taxes, property taxes and the distributive school account from the state.

Other sources include federal grants, bond sales and other programs.

All together, this year’s budget totaled about $80 million.

“The first thing we have to do when we’re budgeting is cover all our liabilities on the salary schedule,” Anderson said. “Before we can appropriate any funds, we have to fulfill our contractual obligations to our employees.”

Each month, the district receives $1.75 million from the state to pay for the previous month’s expenditures.

Nevada Administrative Code allows for government entities to hold up to 8.3 percent of its total expenditures in a fund balance, or savings account, to pay for expenses until the state money comes in.

The school district could reserve $4.2 million in that account but has only $2.7 million.

It has dwindled from $3.6 million and will decrease this year again to pay for a $329,000 deficit.

Anderson has begun work on the 2005 tentative budget, which must be submitted to the state by April 15.

In that budget, he has allowed for a 2 percent raise for all employees, but said there will have to be some sacrifices.

“We’re looking at the long-term strategy and trying to redefine how the school district is doing business,” he said. “Every time we have a vacancy, we’re going to review that position very carefully.”

A budget hearing will be held May 19. Anderson encouraged the public to attend.

“Get a copy of the tentative budget. Look at it and review it,” he said. “Come to the meeting and ask questions. There’re no secrets. Every dollar that comes in is accounted for.”

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1272.