Tax rate stays
BOE dips into reserves to go to rollback rate
By Kathryn Purcell
In a unanimous vote, the Morgan County Board of Education approved a more than $29 million fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget at a called meeting on Monday, with the intention of being able to go to the rollback rate.
Projected expenditures totaled more than $29.4 million, a 3.85 percent increase from the FY 2008 budget, while projected revenues totaled close to $28.7 million.
The shortfall between projected expenditure and revenue, or over $755,000, is to be made up by drawing from reserves. By doing so, the Board is predicting being able to go to the rollback rate of 12.724 mils, according to Superintendent Stan DeJarnett.
"We tried to be as fiscally tight as we could, and I appreciate the budget committee's work because we were able to accomplish this and not cut into classroom expenses," DeJarnett said.
Expenditures include over $21.4 million in direct instruction, an increase of more than $741,000 from FY 2008 due primarily to the Governor Perdue and state Legislature-initiated 2.5 percent teacher pay raise, and $2 million in maintenance and operations, an increase of more than $125,000 from FY 2008. Expenditures also include $1.9 million in school administration, $1 million in pupil services, $528,000 in system administration and more than $345,000 in business and finance support services, all of which increased from the FY 2008 proposed budget.
Other expenditures include $1.4 million in pupil transportation, almost $530,000 in educational media services, almost $128,000 in staff improvement and development and more than $15,000 in central and community support services, all of which decreased from the FY 2008 proposed budget.
The cost of fuel is part of the amount budgeted for pupil transportation. While the budgeted total in that area decreased from FY 2008, the amount budgeted for fuel increased from $220,000 to $325,000, according to DeJarnett.
"We were able to control our budget," DeJarnett said, in a phone interview. "We cut it to the bone in maintenance and operations...We cut travel, we cut maintenance and operations, we left a couple of non-teaching positions vacant, anything we could do to keep the cost down."
Revenues are set to total close to $28.7 million, with $15 million generated from state sources, $12.9 million from ad valorem taxes, a more than $1.4 million increase from FY 2008, and more than $730,000 from other local sources.
"I was very impressed with the superintendent and how he cut the budget," Board member Dave Belton said. "I know this is a 3.8 percent increase, but 2.5 percent of that was from the state governor. We did not pay for the 2.5 percent teacher rate increase and [with] the increase in gas prices that 3.8 percent increase, it's really amazing how low that is. The year before we had a 9.95 percent increase, the year before that we had 9.81 [percent] increase. I think the story should be how well we did in getting back to the rollback rate."
Additionally, in regard to federal and lottery funds and School Nutrition funding, the School Nutrition program is slated to receive more than $1.6 million, while the system will receive $709,000 in No Child Left Behind Act funding, $644,000 in federal special education grants, $203,000 in lottery funds for the Pre-Kindergarten program and $28,000 in federal vocational grant money.