Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 25, 2014

Panel OK's BOE's $50.8 million budget

CROSSVILLE — The Cumberland County Board of Education's revised $50 million 2014-'15 fiscal year budget was approved by the county's budget committee Monday evening in a 5-2 vote.

It was the second time the two governmental bodies met and the BOE came back with a reduced financial request for the county.

Although the budget was approved by the committee, it still requires approval by the full Cumberland County Commission as part of the entire Cumberland County 2014-'15 fiscal year budget.

"Thanks for giving us a reprieve. We appreciate that and giving us another chance to come to you with our budget and needs. We feel like we did our due diligence on this budget and made some cuts. We did make some cuts, but we respectfully request you give consideration for additional funds," Donald Andrews Cumberland County Director of Schools said.

Andrews and Bob Scarbrough, chief financial officer, presented the county with a reduced budget, cutting more than $500,000.

Listed as proposed cuts were eliminating 4.5 new RTI teaching positions at $220,000, eliminating salary increase and using the state's salary equity money for compensation at $150,000, eliminating new social studies textbook purchase for grades K-2 at a $87,155 savings and changing the technology plan to a school cycle plan of replacing computers in only three schools per year, for a reduction of $109,042.

The total reduction is $566,197. These proposed cuts have not been approved by the BOE, who only approved a reduced budget figure.

"I feel like we trimmed up some areas of the budget and tightened our belt where we could," Scarbrough said.

The total adjusted expenditures for the BOE budget were then listed at $50,858,533. Subtracting projected revenues of $47,897,344, will leave a balance of $2,961,169.

The BOE proposes to use $2,752,348 of its fund balance, which will leave a shortfall of $208,841, that the BOE is requesting from the county.

The Basic Education Program (BEP) state-required funding match from the county is $16,744,000. The BOE is requesting a total of $17,139,610 from the county.

Andrews explained the BOE would like the county to give the school system the $130,000 liquor tax funds coming from the city as revenue that would not count towards maintenance of effort.

Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner, asked about the BOE fund balance and said he didn't want to see it grow by $1 million and the county ask for a tax increase.

"The fund balance growth puzzled me on how a budget that's supposed to be so tight could gain a million dollars. What makes you think it won't grow again next year? I mean, if you didn't spend it, then I guess you didn't need it. I'd hate to see it grow and have to raise taxes (for the budget) and the fund balance grow. It's not the way you should do it. Shouldn't do that to the citizens," Harvel said.

Allen Foster, 4th District commissioner, said, "I don't know. I've seen the fund balance decrease over several years."

"We don't want to build a fund balance up too high," Andrews said.

"I don't want dollars sitting there and have to raise taxes," Harvel said.

Josh Stone, 4th District school board representative attended the meeting and explained $233,000 was for the SROs that wasn't spent, $160,000 was added for the liquor tax money, $150,000 in capital outlay projects was added that hadn't been spent.

Foster made a motion to give the BOE the $206,769 growth money, $130,000 in liquor tax and additional $208,841 as a one-time expenditure going toward textbooks.

Jeff Brown, supported the motion, stating $308,841 was non-recurring.

They also added the stipulation the BOE and county enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) the funds be a one time request and not count toward the county's maintenance of effort next year.

Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, asked, "Where is it going to come from?"

Foster said, "The General Fund fund balance."

Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner, said, "You haven't wrapped up county budget yet. How do you know that if you don't know what's available?"

In all, the approved BOE request is $545,610 more than last year's funded amount.

The committee recessed its meeting until Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the county's general fund expenditures.

Voting in favor of Foster's motion were commissioners Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner and budget committee chairman; Foster; Terry Carter, 6th District; Brown; and John Kinnunen, 9th District commissioner.

Voting against the motion were Harvel and Dave Hassler, 3rd District commissioner.

Harvel said he was voting against it because he wanted to wait to see what all the other county departments needed. Hassler agreed.

Andrews said he appreciated the commissioners and their support of the BOE.

Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock said the MOU was a legal agreement that would need to be handled by the attorneys and would need to be completed as soon as possible.

The budget committee still needs to approve the county general fund, set the property tax rate and distribution of the tax dollar and publish notice of the full budget in the newspaper 10 days prior before it can vote on the entire county budget.

Sabine anticipates the county commission voting on the 2014-'15 fiscal year budget in July.

Commissioners and committee members Nancy Hyder, 2nd District; and Jan McNeil, 5th District, did not attend the meeting.

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