PINEDALE – Creating a school budget proved a challenge this year due to legislative deadlock over Wyoming's education funding model, changes in ad valorem tax distribution and declining revenues.
Vern McAdams, Sublette County School District No. 1 director of business and operations, presented a 2021-2022 academic year budget to trustees at their July 21 board meeting.
Following a public hearing that featured no objections or comments, the trustees present approved the budget, 5-0. Chairman Jamison Ziegler and board member Chris Nelson had excused absences. Trustee Charles Prior presided over the meeting.
The 2021-2022 budget was “not a whole lot different” from the previous year's estimated revenue and expenses, McAdams told the Roundup. Local districts lacked direction from the state on ad valorem tax changes introduced in Senate File 60, McAdams added.
The Wyoming House and Senate locked horns over a proposed modification to the state's school funding model, unable to agree on the nature of cuts in the wake of a decline in revenue from the energy sector.
Uncertainty at the state level left McAdams in the position to form a budget based on models from the past – the “traditional way,” he said. Estimating assessed values and shortfalls in the district was especially difficult this year with limited guidance from the state, McAdams stated.
McAdams thanked Sublette County Treasurer Emily Paravicini and assessor Laila Illoway for doing a “great job” staying on top of the shifting situation.
Trustees also passed budget and program recommendations from the Recreation Board, along with a services agreement with the Pinedale Aquatic Center.
The PAC services agreement remained at $1,200,000 for a third year, according to documents submitted by district staff.
Before the regular board meeting, trustees held a public hearing on an amendment to last year's budget. The board did not receive comment or objection from the public during the amendment hearing.
McAdams told the Roundup the amendment reflected a rise in the district's school lunch budget. Inflation in food items and the need to purchase COVID-19 safety supplies for food service employees contributed to an additional $60,000 in the 2020-2021 budget, McAdams said.