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Published June 23 2010

Fargo School District see first draft of balanced budget

The Fargo School District’s budget for this next year is back in the black.

A preliminary draft of the budget presented to board members in May showed a projected deficit of nearly $600,000.

Board members directed officials then to “get that to a zero” – and they did.

On Tuesday, the school board reviewed a first draft of a balanced 2010-11 $117 million budget, which they’ll approve next month.

That’s an estimated $6 million more in expenses than what were approved during the past year.

Dan Huffman, the assistant superintendent of business services, said the 5.42 percent increase in expenses is largely due to staff salaries and benefits.

Among the increase in expenses is also $13,862 more for Trollwood Performing Arts School and $450,000 for activities starting up for Davies High School students.

However, the budget also accounts for an estimated 5.92 percent increase in revenue next year, generated largely from state aid and property taxes.

That leaves the budget with a $7,354 surplus.

“Every year … we’re trying to have a pretty tight budget,” board member Jim Johnson said.

The “tiny” surplus grows the fund balance to about $34 million – 26 percent of the district’s expenses. The state average among school districts is 23 percent.

As for revenue from taxpayers, the district’s mill levy of 191 mills isn’t projected to be raised or lowered next year.

The district has lowered the mill levy for the past 11 out of 12 years, board President Dan Fremling said, adding: “I’m hopeful we’ll continue that trend.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515