As I noted yesterday, the only way to assess the integrity of the numbers in a budget is to review the salaries line item for key departments. Today, let’s start at the top with the salaries budget for the Board of Education [Added – department composed of the 9 Board members who receive a nominal salary, the Executive Director, the Administrative Manager and two Admin Assistants].
The FY14 Tentative Budget for Salaries is $246 thousand – down $52 thousand from FY13. This is a breath of fresh air – it appears that “fiscal discipline” starts at the top.
And then again – maybe not!
The detailed salary file provided by APS shows total salaries of $341 thousand – meaning that the budget for salaries appears to be understated by $95 thousand. It is also interesting to note that the FY13 Amended Budget appears to be understated by at least $123 thousand. Further, last year the Board included a Board Technical Support Specialist position in their budget; however the position appears to have been transferred to the External Affairs Department in FY14.
If we look at the salaries budgeted on “an apples to apples” basis, the salaries have not decreased even one dime!
Why were the budgeted salaries understated? Why was the position reclassified? Was this an attempt by the Board to make a “statement” to the rest of the organization by implementing budget cuts at the top level? Or was it simply a clerical error (two years in a row makes this less likely)?
If it was an attempt to make a “statement”, it fails miserably because it is not supported by the facts – and worse, it brings their credibility into question.
This is not a good start.
Update: I have provided the list of question above, my detailed analysis and my sources for the information to Chairman of the Board McDaniel, Chair of the Budget Commission Burkes and Dr. Grant – Executive Director to the Board and copied the other members of the Board as well. I will post any of their comments, updates or corrections as I receive them.