Greenport School District restocking reserve accounts

10/12/2013 12:00 PM |
CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Greenport school’s business administrator Diana Duell said the district's reserve balance is rebounding.

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Greenport school’s business administrator Diana Duell said the district’s reserve balance is rebounding.

Greenport School District is on its way toward putting away more funds in its reserves for rainy days, finally getting back to where it was five years ago after some lean years, the district’s business administrator reported on Thursday night.

Diana Duell said at Thursday’s school board meeting that while the district’s reserves were one time considered “grossly underfunded,” at the end of the last school year, it stood at nearly $1.2 million, up from $1.06 million at the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

“We are getting back to a good position,” she said.

At its leanest, the district held under $400,000 in all of its reserve funds, which include reserves for workers’ compensation, unemployment, and retirement. In its retirement reserve alone, the district spent about $225,000 of $300,000 available in the account in 2012-2013, when closer to $600,000 should have been available by state comptroller recommendations.

However, over the past two years alone, more than $800,000 in reserves have been stored away for future use.

Thursday night, the school board approved measures to put $546,000 back into various reserve accounts – including over $300,000 back into retirement reserves – well over the $206,000 that had been used the year before.

This school year, the district was able to stash away some more rainy day funds when it received some unexpected good news from Albany. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget had earmarked $1.12 million in state aid for the Greenport district for the 2013-14 school year, which would have been a 0.87 percent decrease over the current school year. But two months later, the state Legislature secured a 15.06 percent boost, totaling $1.3 million, eventually allowing the district to put away more funds.

Residents have previously passed a budget that has pierced the state tax levy cap as well, including a $14.9 million spending plan that carried a 6.86 percent hike to the tax levy in 2011-2012.

The district’s 2013-14 $15.5 budget, which passed this spring, presented a roughly 3.75 percent spending increase from the previous year’s plan.

Despite the progress, Ms. Duell wrote in an email that the district still has plenty of work to do in order to gain a secure financial footing.

“Although we are improving our financial position, the emphasis is we are still underfunded,” she wrote.

A representative from R.S. Abrams, the accounting firm that completed an audit report for the district, will be on hand at the November board meeting. A copy of the audit was not immediately available.