June 3 a committee was formed to research and brainstorm ideas to alleviate the pending FMUSD budget deficit.  Tuesday, June 16, the committee was given the opportunity to present their findings to the FMUSD Board. 

Christy Riddle represented the committee, comprised of concerned citizens from Moccasin, Kaibab Paiute Tribe, Fredonia and Cane Beds. Riddle spoke before the board and community members, explaining the solutions being presented were short term. However, the committee would like to remain in tact throughout the year to develop more long-term solutions to budgetary issues. 

Riddle re-examined the pending budget deficit, stating the committee believed it to be less dire than previously indicated.  She explained the committee based its recommendation on the perceived smaller deficit amount. 

Riddle informed the board that the Secure Rural Funding (commonly called forestry fees) the district has in the bank is collecting interest at about $48,000 a year, which could easily be used to help the budget situation without affecting the principal amount.  The district is also scheduled to receive an additional $110,000 in the Secure Rural Funding this year.  She reiterated this was a short term solution, but would allow the district time to find a long term one without having to make rash decisions such as closing schools and cutting jobs.  “It is too easy to take an alarmist approach,” exclaimed Riddle.

The drop in override amounts by $39,623 was addressed by Riddle who suggested the Small Schools Program be used to compensate for the amount.  The high school qualifies for the program because its student population is less than 100. The program is funded by taxes, but because of the decreased overrides, implementing the Small Schools should not affect the taxpayer’s rates.

Riddle also discussed the possibility of designating the schools as isolated.  Currently the school does not carry this designation because of Moccasin School’s proximity to Colorado City schools. Colorado City schools, however, do carry this designation.  She suggested the board petition to receive isolated school status to receive additional funding from the State.

The committee was asked to come up with various proposals. Riddle ended her presentation with the suggestion of raising property taxes by 1.5% or raising taxes by .5% and using the Secure Rural Funding to eliminate the deficit.

Armed with a plethora of information and suggestions from the committee, the FMUSD adjourned to review and contemplate how to handle the pending budget issues.