BCBOE approves amended budget, maintains property tax rate
by Mark Andrews
Jul 01, 2011 | 2623 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bartow County Board of Education on Thursday approved an amended budget for the 2012 fiscal year that shows an improved general fund ending balance of $13.7 million, up from the original projected balance of $8.5 million. The board also approved the proposed millage rate, or property tax rate, of 17.9 mills, the same as last year.

"It's still a tough picture, but it's better than the one we've been faced with before," said school board president Davis Nelson.

The beginning general fund balance is at $22.2 million, with local revenue at $101,251,556 and expenses at $109,718,532, leaving a budget deficit of about $8.4 million.

"That deficit is different than the one we have discussed and the reason that deficit is different is because we have been able to positively impact our fund balance, which is one of the things we did anticipate to some measure, due to coming in under budget on our expenses for the year," said chief financial advisor Todd Hooper.

Hooper said contributing factors included the school system being owed federal funds on a month-to-month basis and $2.9 million in federal job education funds. Other factors include a savings of about $400,000 in student transportation after being able to lock in a fixed fuel price.

He said, however, work still needs to be done to maintain the budget.

"In order to continue to have a positive fund balance, one of the things we have to do is we have to balance our revenues and expenses at some point," Hooper said. "The beginning fund balance we have projected will, again, allow us to postpone some of the cuts that would have been anticipated this year to a future date and time."

He said the budget does allow for employees to be paid before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"This is a good budget in terms of what we're able to work with, but it's not one that we're satisfied, it's one where we've still got cuts to make," Hooper said, "tough cuts and revenue considerations."

Superintendent John Harper said the cuts to this budget remain in instruction, general administration and in central support services, but no student programs have been eliminated. Employees will see five furlough days, with the central office closing for three days next week.

"We've been really fortunate that some of the information we were using prior tonight has changed significantly for us for the good, but I can't express enough of the support [Hooper] and his staff as well as the directors have done in trying to conserve dollars inside of our school system to provide for children and keep teachers employed inside our classrooms," Harper said.

He added that the budget also has seen a reduction in local funding over the last five years.

"I think the community needs to be very proud of the work Bartow County has done to conserve dollars and still continue to maintain good student-teacher ratios inside the classroom," Harper said.

The board will vote on the proposed millage rate on July 25.