By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Willamina approves school budget

Deputy Clerk Carol Haight said she has been putting budgets together for 11 years, four with the city of Willamina and seven with the school district, and this is the tightest one she has ever assembled.

“Cities don’t have a lot of money, but we have no fluff,” she said. “We dropped our contingency (about $102,000) and shuffled money around just to meet our payroll costs. It’s not good. I remember $12 million budgets.”

The school board is scheduled to consider the budget for adoption at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25.

Budget Committee Chair Colette Bryant praised the work of Haight and Superintendent Gus Forster, telling them, “You did a good job putting this together.”

The district built nine furlough days into the budget. There are no salary increases, only step increases.

PERS rates are up 6.94 percent, costing the district $238,000. The unemployment tax has increased from 1.3 percent to 1.8 percent, another $22,000.

Forster reiterated Wednesday evening the point he made at the first budget meeting that this is a “maintenance” document.

“There’s nothing extreme one way or the other,” he said. “We will have a solid year.”

He said the $6.55 billion figure the state Legislature has indicated it will fund K-12 education looks solid at this point in time.

“I think we can move ahead with our figures,” he said.

Forster was questioned regarding potential PERS reform, and how Willamina might spend any savings it realizes. He pointed to the nine furlough days, and said buying back as many days as possible would be the No. 1 priority. Staff salaries, benefits and other costs total about $30,000 per day.

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