Budgeting guidelines OK'd

Education Fund Board unanimously agrees to proposal

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After experimenting -- to mixed results -- with a new budgeting process last year, the Education Fund Board will return to a process similar to the one used in the past.

Members of the 13-member Fund Board unanimously approved Wednesday night a budget allocation process that will, in effect, guarantee each of the board's three commissions a minimum amount of money to spend on educational programs and needs for the Steamboat Springs School District.

As in past years, any funding requests from the commissions must be approved by the Fund Board and accepted as a gift by the School Board before the projects or programs can be implemented.

The revised budgeting process proposal, drafted by Fund Board member Norm Weaver, outlined three baseline allocation options for each commission. The third option, approved by the Fund Board at Wednesday's meeting, calls for the Capital Commission to receive $300,000 in funding and the Educational Excellence and Technology commissions to each receive $550,000 in funding. In addition each commission can request some or all of the money in an additional $200,000 pool.

Money in the pool most likely will be granted to a commission or commissions based on the strength of their funding proposals as determined by the Fund Board.

The new budgeting process is similar to the process used when only two commissions existed. Under the old process, each commission was guaranteed 40 percent of the sales tax revenue, and the final 20 percent was awarded to the commissions based on the strength of their additional requests.

Last year, the Fund Board and its commissions entered the budgeting process without any guidelines as to how much money each commission could receive. The process ended up being a free-for-all competition, with the Educational Excellence Commission requesting more than $1 million of the $1.8 million in half-cent sales tax revenue. After hearing requests from each commission, the Fund Board eventually designated a certain amount of money to each commission.

Under the process approved Wednesday, each commission will know ahead of time about how much money it has to work with, which should prevent commissions from requesting the majority of half-cent sales tax revenue. The process also will force each commission to focus its requests on its top-priority programs and projects.

The months-long budgeting process takes another step forward at the Fund Board's February meeting, when representatives from the Capital Commission will present first readings of their commission's funding requests. Of the $300,000 allocated to the Capital Commission, about $250,000 already is accounted for through additional payments on the $1.6 million middle school expansion project.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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