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H-PT approves budget

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Sara Marcotte, business manager for Houghton-Portage Township Schools, discusses the district’s budget during a hearing Monday night. The board approved the budget for the coming school year at Monday’s meeting.

HOUGHTON — Houghton-Portage Township Schools approved a budget with $17,677,497 of general fund appropriations at its meeting Monday.

The general fund will run a slight deficit for the year. The projected fund balance at the end of next year is $4,891,788, down from $5,170,845. That still leaves the balance at more than 28% of appropriations.

“I would say (Business Manager) Sara (Marcotte) has done an excellent job budgeting with a lot of unknowns,” said Superintendent Anders Hill. “With that deficit, we still have a healthy fund balance which sits above our policy, which we adopted. We still feel comfortable with this budget.”

The school service fund, which includes food service and after-school day care, will operate at a loss

“The state does not like that with a fund that’s just supposed to kind of break even,” Marcotte said. “So they requested we spend over $500,000.”

The district has used the fund to purchase equipment, and has a kitchen renovation planned for next year. The projected balance for the end of next June is $706,287, down from $1,183,795 at the start of July 2023.

Marcotte said it will probably be easier to get a handle on trends in the coming years as the district moves past the anomalous infusion of cash through COVID funding.

The debt retirement fund, where the district pays its bond principal, is balanced at $3,239,071. The largest adjustment came with the adjusted payments after Walmart’s property tax was readjusted following a Michigan Tax Tribunal settlement. The district paid out $120,000 from the fund last year rather than the expected $2,500.

The board also approved millage for the coming year of 17.2832 operating mills and 9.64 mills for debt retirement.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a three-year contract with the district’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

• Approved hiring new personnel: middle school teacher Jennifer Saaranen and Nicholas Squires, junior varsity volleyball coach Alana Nolan and freshman volleyball Gael Filpus.

• Approved an application for preliminary qualifications of bonds.

• Approved a membership in the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

• Approved a bid from Finnish Coat Painting to paint the Houghton High School pool.

• Approved open enrollment school of choice for the 2024-25 school year.

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