County Says Passage of Measures I and J Has No Bearing on Current Schools Budget Cost Cutting

County Education Office will not allow District to include any revenue from future sales tax revenues in its budget calculations

Published : Friday, November 9, 2018 | 5:59 AM

[Update]    During a special Pasadena Unified School District Board meeting Wednesday, several Board members expressed optimism that the financially beleaguered District would be allowed to include at least a percentage of new revenue from sales tax Measures I and J, which had both passed overwhelmingly the day earlier, in their current budget calculations.

On Thursday, their hopes were quashed.

Following a Thursday morning conference call from School Board members to the County representatives it became clear that the Board will not be allowed to calculate any of the new revenues into their budget planning

“LACOE has not changed its position regarding the district’s use of tax revenue,” Margo Minecki, Public Information Officer, Los Angeles County Office of Education, said yesterday.

The District is on a self-imposed November 15 deadline to cut a total of $10.1 million from the next two years’ budgets in order to meet a December 17 deadline mandated by the County Office of Education.

After a series of cost-cutting meetings, the Board still needs to wring out another $4.6 million. Any portion of the new tax revenues — expected to total $7 million annually — would have helped solve the problem.

But the County on Thursday simply reiterated its previous position: the future revenues cannot be calculated to offset current financial requirements.

“Pasadena USD and all districts in the county must report their 1st interim budget status to LACOE by 12/17/18,” said Minecki. “We have 30 days to review and either certify their submission or change their certification.”

If the District cannot finalize a satisfactory budget in time it faces a takeover by the County.

Board Member Patrick Cahalan, along with other Board Members, seemed cautiously optimistic Wednesday that the County would allow at least a certain percentage of the anticipated funds to be figured into the Board’s projections for at least the next fiscal year.

Pasadena Unified Interim Chief Business Officer Eva Lueck agreed, saying “I would be hard-pressed to see why they would not support it. There is a track record for the City’s tax revenue.”

Awaiting a response from the County about the tax revenue matter and needing more time to prepare for a new round of budget cuts, the Board canceled its Thursday special budget meeting.

Meanwhile, the City Council is treading lightly with regard to approving sharing future tax revenue with the School District.

Suggestions from Councilmembers ranged from depositing the new tax revenue into a reserve account rather than giving it directly to the District, and even sharing less than the recommended one-third of the new tax revenue.

The City Council has not yet agendized a vote on sharing revenue with the school district, although School Board Member Patrick Cahalan told the Board that Mayor Terry Tornek said recently, “We’re working on it.”

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