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Committee passes on school budget amendment

The Washington County School System has booked more than $200,000 of additional revenue, but Budget Committee members declined making a formal amendment to reflect the increase with only three months left in the fiscal year.
“Philosophically, you have greater than expected sales tax revenue so you’re just going to budget it in and spend it,” Commissioner Joe Grandy said during the March 11 meeting. “You’re taking our budget up so next year we start at this level.”
Amending the budget would affect the maintenance of effort, a provision that prevents local governments from reducing funding for education from one year to the next.
If the schools 2014-15 budget is amended to include the $200,000 overage it has received, the county is locked into providing $400,000 additional dollars for fiscal 2015-16 with the share that would go to the city school system.
“That’s $400,000 of new money before the budget process even begins,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said. “I can’t see us approving new revenue at this point, knowing there is not going to be a revenue issue.”
Commissioner Joe Wise agreed, noting $190,000 of the additional funds are from sales tax. “Sales tax is volatile,” he said, and an unreliable means to justify raising the bar for future funding.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes said he would take the comments back to the school board for a decision on revising the request.