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2015-16 Budget and Tax Rates - My View

  1. Fact #1:  UCF normally always passes budgets with deficits (draw down of reserves).  UCF has budgeted an operating deficit 24 years out of the last 26 years.

  2. Fact #2:  The 2015-2016 budget deficit is smaller than normal.   Fully 20 out of the last 26 budgets have planned for a deficit larger than the one proposed for 2015-2016.  The average budgeted deficit has been $882k, 70% larger than the proposed 2015-16 deficit.

  3. Fact #3:  Even though we budget for deficits, we usually end up with a surplus.  77% of the time we have ended the year with a surplus.

  4. Fact #4:  We always under-spend.  Not once in 26 years have we spent 100% of our budget.  On average, we spend $1.6M less than budgeted.  How can this be?  It is because we budget our expenses conservatively.  State regulation of schools encourages this practice.   And as a result, we usually spend 97% of what was budgeted.  If 2015-16 is a normal year, we will end the fiscal year with a surplus of over $1M dollars, and add to our reserves. Some in our community are worried that if we pass this budget, we will not be able to afford the pay increases that our Teachers’ Union is seeking at the negotiating table.    I have looked at this as well.      I am very confident that any reasonable settlement, even a reasonably generous settlement, with our Teacher’s Union, can be met within our 2015-16 budget, and in years to come.  In sum, the budget we passed last month is not about the union contract. It is not about cutting programs.  And it in no way puts the future at risk.   This budget provides every cent required to deliver our great programs and provide a strong education to our students. The budget funds the full UCF program. We are very likely to run a significant operating surplus. That operating surplus can handle all eventualities in the negotiation with our union. So why would we take more from our tax payers?  We can deliver a great education with our current budget.  We can meet our present and future commitments to our teachers, administrators, and support staff.  And we can do so, likely with an operating surplus at the end of the year. Why would we take more when we don’t need it?  To me raising taxes by 2.01% seems like the right balance.  We are not taking more resources from our tax payers than is required, and we are following the prudent financial management practices that have served the district so well over the last 26 years.

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