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School budget: Proposal cuts utilities, custodial services

POSTED: June 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The Gainesville city schools is proposing a tentative 2008-09 budget of $53.2 million, nearly $1.9 million less than last year’s budget, according to documents obtained by The Times.

The City Board of Education plans to review it as part of the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, which is set to begin at 7 tonight in the cafeteria of Gainesville High School, 830 Century Place.

Last year, the board approved a $55.1 million budget. This year’s budget represents a 3.4 percent drop in overall expenses.

The largest cut for fiscal year 2009 is in the area of custodial services, telephones, utilities and groundskeeping, which is dropping $2.6 million from $4 million. Budgets for individual schools are dropping from $2.3 million to $2 million.

The school system faces an estimated $6.6 million deficit heading into the new budget year, primarily because of overspending for this and last fiscal year.

To deal with the financial crisis, Superintendent Steven Ballowe has recommended some $4.5 million in budget cuts, along with an increase in the property tax rate to 8.34 mills from 6.96 mills. One mill equals $1 for each $1,000 in property value. The new rate includes .34 mills for bond debts.

At tonight’s meeting, Janet Allison, chief financial officer, also plans to present a document showing revenue scenarios involving four different tax rates.

By increasing the tax rate to 8.34 mills and factoring in other revenue sources, Allison projects that the district would have a total of $54.3 million in revenue.

If the district received the same mid-year funding boost it received this year from the state, or $1.56 million, the total revenue could climb to $55.9 million.

Between those two scenarios involving the state funding, the district could end up with between $1.1 million and $2.65 million to apply toward the deficit.

The budget is set for final adoption on June 30, the deadline for its submission to the state, with the new fiscal year starting July 1. By law, the district must allow two weeks between the budget’s tentative and final adoption.



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