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Budget Committee approves revised funding proposal for schools

A revised funding proposal for the Washington County School System was unanimously approved during the July 24 meeting of the Budget Committee.
The breakdown proposes a 2 percent salary increase in lieu of the 3.5 percent requested.
The county will reimburse the schools fund balance more than $300,000 for expenses from last year, and utilize bonds to purchase new school buses.
Net proposed expenditures for fiscal year 2013 are $61 million, which will require $1.1 million to come from the schools fund balance.
In reviewing the proposal, Commissioner Mitch Meredith said the school system needs to be careful how quickly it grows its salary levels.
“It puts a lot of pressure when you don’t have expanding revenue,” he said, referring to flat revenue in the county and a reduction in state funds.
Mayor Dan Eldridge said all of the issues can’t be solved now.
“What we’re attempting to do with this proposal is get through the next year,” he said.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes said the salaries in Washington County are $3,300 less than the state average, and the system would be spending closer to $1.6 million from its fund balance if it decided to stick with the original plan for pay increases.
Eldridge acknowledged the Budget Committee and the county commission have no authorization on how funds are allocated within the schools budget.
“We could take the 2012 number, subtract the school buses and use that (for the proposal amount),” Meredith said.
“You could,” Dykes agreed, adding “that sounds almost like a threat.”
Commissioner Pete Speropulos said the proposal was being offered to the schools as a road map to explain how the numbers under discussion were reached.
Speropulos made a motion to recommend to the full commission net proposed expenditures of $61 million for the county schools during fiscal 2013 and use of $1.1 million from the schools fund balance.
Commissioner Joe Grandy seconded the motion.