Huntington School Board members voted 7-0 to confirm allocations of surplus monies from the 2020/21 budget to the district’s reserve funds.
Trustees took the action during their Monday night meeting in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium. Creation of each of the funds is authorized by state law. Some of the funds also required the approval of district residents.
“This is an interesting time in education in numerous regards and that includes school district finances in general,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “The district continues to adhere to all fiscal requirements and auditor recommendations as it evaluates reserve positions and usage. This is part of an overall effort to maintain its financial health and to meet the educational needs of all students.”
The district currently has three separate overlapping capital reserve funds with monies contained therein, which residents authorized during public votes in 2008, 2013 and 2017. As of June 30, 2020, the 2008 fund contained $536 while the 2013 fund had a balance of $7,357. Residents voted to allow trustees to transfer up to $2 million annually for a total capitalization of $10 million for each fund.
The 2017 capital reserve fund had a balance of $3,517,324 as of June 30. There is no annual cap on the amount of surplus monies that can be transferred into the fund, but there is a lifetime limit of $12,500,000 or after eight years, whichever is earlier.
Maintaining a well-funded capital reserve allows the district to avoid borrowing and incurring interest costs to upgrade its facilities. These monies can only be used for capital projects, including new school roofs, windows, doors, boilers, facility improvements, etc. Completed projects are eligible for state aid. District residents must approve any expenditure of funds.
The Employee Benefits Accrued Liability Reserve Fund’s balance is now $6,787,219. The monies cover the cost of unused accumulated leave time that is contractually provided to certain groups of employees when they separate from the district and are entitled to such payment.
The Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund’s balance stands at $6,849,094. It is used to pay expenses related to the district’s obligation to the New York State Employees Retirement System.
The Workers’ Compensation Reserve Fund’s balance is now $2,709,945. It is used to pay actual claims related to employee medical costs and self-insurance administrative expenses. It cannot be used to pay for premiums.
The Unemployment Insurance Payment Reserve Fund’s balance is $158,144. It helps cover unemployment insurance claims submitted by employees who have been separated from service to the district.
The district is using $2 million from its fund balance to help hold down property taxes during the 2020/21 fiscal year. Huntington’s unassigned fund balance is $5,437,525. These funds are unrestricted and may be used for any valid purpose.
A copy of Huntington’s reserve fund plan is posted on the district website at www.hufsd.edu. The plan includes a history of each fund, including its purpose, funding level and uses.