FinCom Votes to Add $71,345 to Reserve Fund to Ensure Payment for Homeless Student Transportation

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

The policies of Bedford’s Finance Committee (FinCom) describe the Town’s Reserve Fund as an amount earmarked for “extraordinary or unforeseen expenditures.” On Thursday night, FinCom deemed that the need to fund an unpredictable level of transportation service for a continually fluctuating population of homeless students was just such an extraordinary case, and voted to move $71,345 in surplus cash into the Reserve Fund to safeguard against the time that the Schools might need to return with a request for a Reserve Fund transfer.

“The number of homeless or displaced persons is within the discretion of the State, and the cost of transportation [for school children of homeless families] likewise is within its discretion,” said FinCom member Rich Bowen. “I propose we increase the Reserve Fund to take care of [any charge for homeless student transportation] that might come in. It’s difficult to project [how much the charge might be] at this point in time.”

School Committee member Ed Pierce, also present at the meeting, was asked to speak about how much the cost is projected to be for the current year’s transportation.

“For FY13, it’s totally unpredictable. However, what we’ve spent already through December is $68,000. We have roughly 60 children that have come through the homeless program. About 30 of them go to school in Bedford and 30 of them are transported to their home district, as is their choice. The community that’s responsible for their transportation is the one that they’re residing in—and in this case, it’s Bedford.”

“Do you have an estimate of what [the total amount] will be for the [full] year?” asked FinCom Chair Mike Seibert.

“It could be in the range of $160,000–$180,000,” replied Pierce. “According to [Superintendent of Schools Jon Sills], just in the last two weeks we’ve had seven new kids come through the program.

“So, we’re likely to see an FY13 request for a reserve fund transfer,” surmised Bowen.

“Yes,” responded Pierce, “but you would get [however much the total is] next year as a revenue source [through reimbursement from the State]. And we’re going to have a bill this year of $166,000 or whatever, so there will be a mismatch in terms of coming to you folks at the end of the year.”

“That assumes that you don’t have any other monies available,” said FinCom member Stephen Steele. “If you can move it around to pay for that. . .”

“That’s right. But at this point, we can’t count on that,” Pierce replied.

With that in mind, the Finance Committee decided to move surplus cash in their budget model to the Reserve Fund to prepare for a worst-case scenario. With the addition of $71,345, the FY14 Reserve Fund balance rests at $452,686. The Reserve Fund balance for the current year— FY13 – is $447,461.

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9 years ago

A bit confused. Does this mean that the town eventually gets reimbursed by the state?

kim siebert macphail
kim siebert macphail
9 years ago

Yes, the Town does get reimbursed by the State the year after the bill has been paid. There is a bit of uncertainty surrounding the repayment, however, in that the State has to have put aside enough money to cover all the receipts submitted by all the towns in the same position as Bedford.

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