Archive for Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Kansas not able to make payment

$330,000 for school payroll doesn’t arrive

April 3, 2002

It's a good thing today's not payday.

If it were, Kansas school districts would have to do some pretty fancy footwork to keep payroll checks from bouncing.

Richard Erickson, Tonganoxie school superintendent, said the state is supposed to deposit the full amount for payroll (about $330,000) in the school's bank account on the first day of each month.

But this month, it's late. Monday morning, Erickson said he thought only about half the funds would be deposited that day.

"And Gail Drake was told we will receive the rest whenever they can make payment," Erickson said. "We're real hopeful that that will be soon."

Drake, district clerk, said this isn't the first time the state's money has been late.

"In December, we got 75 percent on Dec. 7 and 25 percent on Dec. 17," Drake said.

Fortunately, Drake said, so far the full amount of state aid has arrived prior to payday, which falls on the 20th of each month.

But Erickson said the district has contingency plans, in case all or part of the state payment would arrive after the 20th.

This means the district could borrow funds from various accounts, meet the payroll, and then replace the funds as soon as state money arrives.

Erickson said part of the problem is that the state's reserve balance is too low.

"By state law they have to keep a 7.5 percent balance in the treasury," Erickson said. "My thought is they need to raise that 7.5 percent so that they can meet their cash flow obligations."

With the state facing a projected budget deficit of more than $700 million, Erickson said he hopes to see a tax increase.

"I hope that the legislators act in a responsible way," Erickson said. "None of us like tax increases but we've got to balance that budget and do our best to provide Kansans with the public services and education they deserve."

All options need to be looked at, he said.

"With a $700 million deficit, they need to be open to a lot of different options," Erickson said.

At this point, Erickson said he would be happy with a budget presented last week that would restore K-12 funding to the previous level, and add $10 to the base per pupil rate.

Rep. Ken Wilk, R-Lansing, and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said last week that this school funding proposal is more palatable to lawmakers than an earlier proposal that would have cut about $300 per pupil.

"Clearly, there's overwhelming support to not reduce K-12 funding," Wilk said. "I don't know that districts will get too excited about the $10, but clearly the House of Representatives has spoken in a loud and clear voice."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.