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Dykes: Sales tax collections down $600,000

Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes told the Washington County Budget Commission at its Feb. 16 meeting that sales tax collections for the year through December have come in about $600,000 below expectations.
As far as the school system’s budget, there are no undesignated funds remaining.
Dykes also presented a budget amendment showing the amount of money the system has had to cut to deal with the lower than expected sales tax revenues.
The system cut $228,760 in salaries, fixed charges, and medical insurance, $205,000 from individual school allocations, and $111,000 from individual departments – all without one individual losing a job, Dykes said.
The schools have had to fill positions with less experienced or less educated candidates, resulting in smaller salaries, and has not filled certain open positions, he said.
Some good news came in from Nashville, Dykes added. Gov. Phil Bredesen has decided to use the state’s Rainy Day Fund to reinstate some areas he thought he would cut, such as coordinated health programs, pending legislative approval.
In “bad news,” Dykes said, the school system has to increase retirement rates by 2.5 percent, costing the school $250,000 more next year, as well as $100,000 more for increasing insurance rates.
In addition, the county will know by mid-April if the state has qualified for ‘Race to the Top’ funds, which would result in about $1.5 million over four years coming to the county school systm, Dykes said.