The Board of Education is ramping up speed in the FY2020 budget process.
At their May 20 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gray offered a look at the tentative budget. The proposed budget comes in at roughly $229 million, an increase of $16.8 million from last year.
As is typical, the lion’s share of expenditures go towards salaries and benefits at 89.41 percent, with 63.5 percent going towards salaries.
The budget will leave a projected fund balance of $29.5 million, exceeding the required $22.9 million.
“I think anybody reading through this overall description would have a pretty good understanding of exactly what we’re doing,” said Superintendent Dr. Jody Barrow. “I think there’s some great things to talk about this budget. There’s no austerity cuts, and there’s revenues coming in, and that’s a strong thing. At times in the past we’ve had to struggle, and we’re not struggling at this point.”
Board member Dr. Barry Marchman was less pleased with the budget. He relayed a tale about a rich miser who, when asked how much it would take to satisfy him, answered, “Just a little bit more.” Marchman questioned the need for the budget to keep going up while there has been no significant increase in student enrollment, and an ESPLOST was passed under the implication the Board of Ed. would not ask for more property taxes.
“I don’t feel like we have a right to keep taking just a little bit more of the family budget without a clear explanation of why we’re asking for their greater sacrifice,” he said. “I would not vote for a budget that requires us to take more of our taxpayers’ hard earned resources.”
Gray estimated that the budget would have to be drastically reduced to accommodate a millage rollback to reduce taxes.
The next public comment session will be on June 3, with the June 17 regular meeting as the target date for final budget adoption.