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Whitefish Bay adjusts budget to finance maintenance, technology projects

$500,000 taken out of operating reserve fund

Dec. 16, 2012

Whitefish Bay - Residents may soon have new baseball fields and tennis courts.

The Whitefish Bay School Board last week approved allocating half a million dollars from the district's operating reserve fund for technology and maintenance projects.

The board voted to adjust the 2012-2013 budget to show that $500,000 was taken out of the operating reserve fund - $200,000 to be used for technology upgrades and $300,000 for long range capital and maintenance projects.

The school district has a 7-year, long-range facility plan. The plan calls for a slew of maintenance projects in 2012-13, totaling $120,000. These projects include asbestos abatement, carpet replacement, locker refurbishment at the middle school, masonry repairs and univent/controls replacement, according to district documents.

The board voted in November to allocate $150,000 for the renovation of baseball fields at Cahill Park, which will come out of the $300,000 pulled from operating reserves.

The school district is the third player in a public-private partnership with the Village of Whitefish Bay and the Friends of Bay Baseball, a nonprofit organization that raises money to support the village's baseball program. The money will go toward a $400,000 project to upgrade a baseball field with field turf projected to last more than 25 years. The Whitefish Bay Blue Dukes baseball team uses the field for games.

Anne Berleman Kearney was the only board member to vote against moving the $500,000 from the capital reserve fund. She said does not agree with spending $150,000 on the baseball fields. She also voted against the item in November.

Improving tennis courts

Another $30,000 was set aside for the renovation of the tennis courts at Cumberland Elementary. A group of fundraisers have pledged to raise about $128,000 for the renovation of the three 78-foot regulation tennis courts and asked the district for additional funding.

The board has not yet approved the expenditure of these funds for the tennis courts.

"The $30,000 appeared to have general support so I pulled it into the long range maintenance allocation," Director of Business Services Shawn Yde said.

The item will come back to the board for a vote in a future meeting.

The district received a donation from the fundraising committee for the tennis courts. It currently has $78,000 set aside for the renovations.

"We just received this very, very large donation today, and are very appreciative of the community support and the individual donors who are coming forward to provide that kind of support to our schools," Superintendent Mary Gavigan said.

Technology upgrades

Though $200,000 was taken out of the capital reserve fund for a technology project, that money cannot be spent until the board approves the project at a future meeting.

"While we have set $200,000 aside, the project will have to come back for approval before we make any expenditures," Yde said. "This is so we can make the actual budget adjustments. If projects are less, the money would roll into the fund balance."

The school district's reserve level sat at 22.83 percent. With the $500,000 taken out of the operating reserve, the level drops to 22.68 percent. School board policy recommends a reserve of 14 to 18 percent of the ensuing year's expenditure budget, according to documents.

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