The Board of Commissioners started a trend that continued at the Board of Education meeting last night. Once again the term “rollback” came into play when determining an appropriate millage rate for the citizens of Pickens County.
Last year the millage rate was 16.10 while this year they propose a rate of 16.18. That’s less than a one percent difference. As explained by CFO Amy Burgess if your home is valued at $200,000 that would only amount to a $6 increase. However, that figure is only for the school’s portion of the revenue and doesn’t reflect the entire increase for all county entities.
We would like to stay under our rollback rate. It does mean a loss of revenue from last year but it would be a little bit more than what we had projected for FY (fiscal year) ’14
Because it’s a rollback rate, just as with the Board of Commissioners, there are no public hearings, only advertisement and they are expected to approve the proposed rate at the board meeting September 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Although the millage proposal passed, Board member Mike Cowart balked at the increase and voted against it. He explained that there is $4.5 million in the fund balance. By state law they must keep that figure between 10-15 percent to be termed “financially solvent”. He asked if they kept the millage the same and dipped into the fund balance would they still be able to claim the solvent status. Burgess answered that yes, the fund would be above the required 10 percent.
Cowart later told FYN,
In my personal opinion we could’ve absorbed it. I felt like it was the more prudent thing to do than to increase the millage rate.
I’m actually really pleased with the way everything came in
We are still able to provide lots of things other school systems can’t. We still have music and art K-12. We gave dance classes. We still have a separate gifted coordinator. And we still are, at this point, contributing $40 per employee for single coverage medical.
She did stress that possibly starting next year that is in danger of being phased out.
Superintendent Lula Perry chimed in
Everybody has made an honest effort to do the best we can. I appreciate that. These austerity cuts continue to hurt.
According to Perry these state cuts total right at $3 million.
While on the topic, Burgess revealed that although a figure hasn’t yet been calculated, she was notified that on the federal level Title 2-A will be cut next year also. This provides assistance for staff development and professional learning which has not been downsized by the state. In other words, the state still expects a certain amount of professional training for teachers and school staff but the school district will be losing funds to offset those costs.
In other business, Director Rick Little gave project summaries for the proposed work on Tate Elementary School and Jasper Elementary School for the upcoming year. The board voted in favor of proceeding with the pre-requisites which at this point is simply getting a plan of action and financials to the state by the deadline to be included for consideration of the projects. While the figures came back much lower than projected costs, that is an issue that can be addressed later. Another part of the problem is that the original plan was only to refurbish the kitchen at Tate whereas it has since been determined that the entire (separate) kitchen structure needs to be demolished, reconstructed and refurnished.
Little hasn’t given up hope for additional assistance as he revealed he located a state program that has a list of approved contractors with set costs that he will be researching further as the process moves along.
For figures and statistics, please see the attached forms. To view the meeting in it's entirety, please see the video below.