Waltham enters 2022-23 school year facing $215,000 deficit

Taxpayer impact won’t be known until later this fall

Waltham Elementary could face a larger shortfall than first thought, though it’s too soon to say whether property taxes will rise.

Wednesday, the Waltham school board approved a budget showing more than $4.6 million in revenues against more than $4.8 million in projected expenses, thanks mainly to changes in the district’s risk management plan.

If realized, Waltham would finish the 2022-23 school year more than $215,000 in the red. That’s about $85,000 more than Superintendent Kristi Eager forecast when the preliminary budget was unveiled in August.

Waltham has plenty of spare cash to cover any shortfall. In the education fund alone, Waltham has enough reserves to cover 86% of this year’s projected costs.

“We’re still in a good place there,” Eager said “We’d like to be 100%, but it’s still pretty good.”

Eager is hedging against some unknown costs such as hiring a new bookkeeper and legal fees needed for Covia’s tax dispute – “I budget for the most expensive, hoping for the least expensive” – though the district could bring in six figures from the sale of land where Waltham North once stood.

Any effect on taxes depends on the Utica-area tax base. Eager said she’s waiting for La Salle County to say whether taxable values rose or declined before she hazards a guess on next year’s tax bill.

In other matters, the board:

  • Moved a half day from Oct. 19 to Oct. 26 to comport with other schools’ schedules
  • Increased referee fees for sporting events by $5
  • Meets again Oct. 19