AMA ESD board approves budget

ALPENA – Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District Board of Education approved its general fund and special education fund budgets for 2013-14 school year, along with the millage rate proposals and a tax levy request on Thursday.

The operating millage for the general fund will stay the same as last year at 0.2139 mills based on an estimated $1.88 billion in taxable value. Interest revenue for the general fund is down based on the lower rates and lower fund balances, and state aid continues to be frozen for general operations, except for retirement unfunded liability funds, which have been provided for the first time.

“The retirement reimbursements are a wash,” Assistant Superintendent Tony Suszek said. “The increase in reimbursements goes to the retirement unfunded liability. They increased the retirement rate by 21 percent. This is the first time they’ve given ISDs money to recuperate the percent increase.”

Expenditures within the general fund include costs for board bi-annual community publications, support of instructional services including professional development and core curriculum areas with added support in math for the coming year, and expected spending for the various grant categories that will be reduced or eliminated because of non-renewal or grant programs expiring.

“The general fund will probably see a reduction in funding at the federal level because of the sequester,” Suszek said. “A lot of federal money, like the American history grant, will most likely be canceled. That’s a loss of $100,000 to $200,000 in revenue in the general fund.”

The expenditures for the proposed general fund budget total $2,265,382 with revenues of $2,146,303, putting the budget with a shortfall of $119,079.

“There are a few questions left with the budget,” Suszek said. “The governor hasn’t yet signed the state aid, it is still on his desk. There are staffing replacement questions, we’re not sure the effect Obamacare will have on the ESD, and the number of retiring staff along with the effects the sequester will have on funding for the budget aren’t definite yet.”

The board also had a hearing and approved the special education fund with a rate of 1.9743 mills. The Medicaid reimbursements are projected to be less due to the sequester for special education, but state aid is expected to increase based on added costs and the retirement unfunded liability funds.

“We expect $300,000 less in federal funds for special education services,” Suszek said. “This will most likely make us draw more from the millage funds.”

The proposed budget for the special education fund puts expenditures at $7,263,775 and revenues at $7,324,340, which leaves the fund balance in the black by $60,565.

The budget reflects the nine people who have retired and the AMA ESD wants to fill four of the retired positions. This would put added work on staff members, but will result in cost savings for the district. With declining enrollment the district doesn’t need to fill all the positions that have retired.

“We’re still providing the same services,” Suszek said. “We’re just not adding any new services.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.