Every year here in the ‘Ridge, we play a little game I like to call, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money!” Around late spring/early summer, the school administration and BOE round up some folks with pitchforks and torches and march down to city hall. They demand that the city give them mo’ money than the city has to give. Typically (though thank goodness not this past year), city council concedes because the super and assistant super threaten to fire teachers if they don’t. Then, a few months later the schools quietly announce that, guess what, “We found mo’ money.”
Now, this new found money doesn’t necessarily require an explanation since it is not coming from the city. It does, however, require that the schools submit it to council who must, in turn, approve their budget adjustment. Sometimes, they have to do this multiple times in one year. Sometimes, it’s only a few hundred thousand dollars. Other times, it’s a few million. Regardless of the amount or the source, it is usually done with much less fanfare than when the schools are demanding mo’ money of the city at budget time.
At the moment, we are about 4 months away from the next budget shakedown. And, as one might expect, the schools just found some mo’ money. According to this agenda, “This is a $937,091 increase over the General Purpose School Fund appropriation of $56,575,222 adopted by City Council in budget ordinance amendment number 11-11 on July 25, 2011.”
Right now, I bet I can guess what you are thinking. “Wow! That’s almost like a million dollars! Who has that kind of luck?” But hang on a minute; it’s not as big of a deal as you think.
At last night’s regular city council meeting, the schools presented their request for approval of this increase in their already-finalized budget. Because this happens every year, the schools did not send a representative to explain the request to council. They assumed it would go through without question. This was all just a matter of formality. As you can clearly read in their justification, the explanation is quite simple. This new money is “an accounting entry” adjustment. A $937,091 accounting entry adjustment.
Fortunately, this time city council didn’t pull out the rubber stamp. Maybe they wanted a clearer understanding of where this new money came from. Maybe they realized that the taxpayers deserve an explanation. Maybe they remembered that the schools still owed them 7 months of past-due high school mortgage payments. Or maybe they thought about the $1million the school is currently asking of the city to repair Woodland Elementary School.
Whatever their reasons, I thank them.