Guest Contribution by Arthur Green
Timberlane’s administration appears to inhabit a state of chronic capital confusion (sorry, couldn’t resist the alliteration) about which budget accounts constitute capital expenditures.
Last year, during a School Board discussion of the default budget, Donna Green argued that the Site and Facility Improvments lines, as capital projects, should be considered one-time expenditures and excluded from the default budget. The administration told the school board that these are not capital expenditures.
This topic arose again during the Dec. 21 school board meeting, again during discussion of the default budget. The administration led the school board to believe that replacement equipment is not part of capital expenditures. Again, it was Donna Green making the point that funds appropriated for replacement equipment form part of the capital budget, and could be redirected if necessary for site and facilities improvements.
Back in 2014, when I was on Budget Committee, I specifically asked which appropriation lines are considered capital. Here’s Mr. Stokinger’s answer:
We can see how this plays out by looking at the most recent annual report, for 2015/16. Page 31 of the report shows that the final voted budget for 2016/17 was $70,194,990.
Page 41 of the report gives the apportionment calculation – of the $70.2 million appropriation, $65,883,768 is considered operating expenditure, and is apportioned amongst the 4 member towns based on student enrollment (Average Daily Membership). The remaining $4,311,222 is considered capital expenditure, and is apportioned based on Equalized Property Value.
But how does the district arrive at the $4.3 million capital?
Using Mr. Stokinger’s instructions, we can review the line items in the budget (pages 23-31) and we get this:
There’s no mystery.
Line 4200 – Site Improvements, is capital.
Line 4600 – Building Improvements, is capital.
The new equipment and new computer equipment lines (object codes 733 and 734) total $243,569. Capital.
The replacement equipment and replacement computer equipment (object codes 737 and 738) total $608,852. Capital.
Where’s the confusion? Manufactured confusion can often be advantageous.
Will the same confusion arise when the district apportionment for 2019 is being calculated?