2011-06-23 / Front Page

Taxpayers will feel the pinch with proposed 3 mill increase

The Lincoln County Board of Education approved the Tentative FY 2012 Budget at its regular meeting held Tuesday, June 14.

At the group’s meeting on June 6, Dr. Randall Edmunds, superintendent of schools, and Kaye Bufford, system comptroller, proposed a budget calling for:

A 1.62-mill increase in property taxes, raising the millage rate from 15.196 mills to 16.816.

It is estimated that one mill of property tax will bring in about $275,000.

Seven work reduction days, which will include three school days.

A 1.55 mill increase in the debt service millage rate, which would raise the bond millage rate from 1.385 mills to 2.935.

The bond payments for the new high school are scheduled to be made each April and October, using SPLOST revenues and local tax monies. The annual total is approximately $1.4 million.

With SPLOST running under budget, the system cannot make both payments without raising the bond millage rate.

The proposed budget for the General Fund totaled $11,167,027, a fourpercent decrease when compared to last year’s budget of $11,644,855.

After a lengthy discussion, the board asked Dr. Edmunds and Bufford to meet with various administrators to determine if any additional cuts could be made.

During the June 14 meeting, the superintendent and the comptroller presented the board with a list of cuts in order of priority.

They included:

“Can do” – Move firewall replacement to the Construction Fund at a savings of $9,999.

“Probably would not affect instruction directly:”

(1) Eliminate the purchase of printer cartridges for all classrooms, $7,000.

This means that teachers would have to print to major copiers instead of the ones in their rooms.

(2) Cut debate trips in half, $1,814.

(3) Charge a fee to cover one half of all bus trips, with the exception of travel between schools and work-related travel, $13,000.

(4) Cut school administrative supplies at LCES, $1,000.

(5) Cut middle school counselor dues and fees, $100.

(6) Cut middle school administrative travel, $200.

(7) Cut computer supplies for the technology department, $3,125.

(8) Cut the telephone upgrades slated for the technology building, $1,590.

The total savings in this category would be $27,830.

“Can live with but may hurt instruction:”

LCES – Cut the purchase of “Weekly Readers,” the “Georgia Weekly,” and math workbooks, $8,500; media center books, periodicals, and supplies, $2,200; and gifted field trips, $2,200.

The total savings would amount to $12,900.

LCMS – Cut miscellaneous teaching supplies, $3,000; choral music supplies, $365; P.E. supplies, $400; Rosetta Stone software, $15,000, band equipment, $600; and replacement textbooks, $500.

The total savings would be $19,865.

LCHS – Cut the accompanist for the choir, $750, and athletic travel, $1,000, for a total savings of $1,750.

“Not recommended:”

(1) Reduce the work schedule for parapros and the system nurse to 180 days, $1,136.

(2) Cut the fine arts teacher, $63,570.

(3) Go to an extended day schedule at the alternative school, $8,330.

(4) Cut a technology assistant, $23,560.

The total savings would amount to $96,596.

“We couldn’t come up with enough to make a big dent,” said Superintendent

Edmunds, adding that the system is faced with approximately $600,000 in cuts from the state that it had not anticipated.

In fact, the system is currently receiving $2 million less in state funding than it did five years ago.

“The state used to fund 80 percent of the entire General Fund budget – now it has dropped to 52 percent,” noted Edmunds. “The state and federal governments are expecting local taxpayers to pay more.”

During the meeting, the board looked at the possibility of cutting classroom supplements for teachers at a savings of about $169,000.

“I’m concerned that taking away the supplements will affect teacher morale,” said Board Member Gail Remsen. “They would be taking a triple hit – no supplement, a tax increase, and furlough days.”

At the conclusion of the discussion, Wayne Williford made a motion to approve the Tentative FY 2012 Budget, which calls for:

The General Fund reductions listed on the “Response to Board’s Request for Budget Cuts” sheet (see above), with the exception of the “Weekly Readers,” the Rosetta Stone software, and the “Not recommended” items on the list.

Seven work reduction days, which will include three school days. The reduction days will save the system a total of $310,000.

The teacher classroom supplements to remain in the budget.

A total of approximately $48,800 in cuts was made.

The tentative budget includes General Fund revenues of $10,418,474, expenditures of $11,110,896, and an estimated ending Fund Balance of $507,578. The budget will be balanced using beginning Fund Balance monies from FY 2011.

As for the budget as a whole (General Fund, Special Revenue Fund, Capital Projects, and the Debt Service Fund), it shows total revenues of $14,029,369, total expenditures of $14,813,644, and an estimated ending Fund Balance of $1,916,903.

It is anticipated that the tentative General Fund budget will result in a millage rate increase of 1.45 mills instead of the 1.62 originally proposed. The debt service millage rate is still expected to increase by 1.55 mills, which will cause the millage rate to climb from 1.385 to 2.935 mills.

In practical terms, if an individual has a house valued at $50,000, his property taxes should go up $4.80 per month. The increase for a house valued at $100,000 would be $9.80 per month; whereas, a house valued at $200,000 would require the owner to pay an extra $19.80 per month.

Voting to approve the tentative budget were Williford, Remsen, and Dr. Robert Williams, board chairman. Casting votes against the motion were Denise Freeman and Jason LeRoy.

The board will meet on Wednesday, June 29, at 5:30 p.m. to consider approval of the final budget.

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