It is not in our practice to respond to letters to the editor, but a recent letter written by Bill Allen of Alpena, requires a response. Mr. Allen referred to the fund balances of AMA ESD as "enormous" and "huge." He then suggests that AMA consider sharing those "extraordinarily large fund balances."
We agree with Mr. Allen that AMA should share revenue with the local schools. In fact, AMA has done just that for the past 40 years. In the last 10 years alone, AMA has supported its local school districts with a total of over $12.4 million including over $1.4 million in 2012. Most ISDs do not make these types of payouts to their local schools. In 2012, AMA made the maximum payout allowable and no ISD in Michigan made a higher percentage payout to their local districts. AMA is proud of our financial support to our constituent districts and we are committed to continuing our 40-year practice of revenue sharing.
The most recent audited fund balance for AMA ESD was approximately $4.1 million. AMA's 2012-13 deficit budget projects a year-end fund balance of approximately $3.5 million. Over 82 percent of these monies are earmarked for special education services to area students. The remaining unrestricted amount would cover approximately 17 days of operating expenses for the district. "Enormous," "huge," and "extraordinarily large" seem to be poor descriptors for an unrestricted fund balance that would cover less than one month of expenditures.
AMA has been a good steward of the resources with which we have been entrusted. We have made promises to our community on how those resources will be used and it is our intent to continue to keep those promises.