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Gainesville City Schools board approves 2013-14 budget
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The Gainesville City Schools Board of Education voted Monday night to approve its fiscal 2013-14 budget.

General fund spending was set at $57.5 million, with revenues projected at $53.8 million and the fund balance, projected to be around $7.5 million, expected to make up the difference.

The new fiscal year starts July 1.

Expenses were expected to increase this next fiscal year from fiscal 2012-13, mostly because of an increase in the district’s share in the cost of health benefits, retirement increases, and longevity and upgraded certifications.

Much remains the same from the current fiscal year, from continuing longevity raises to including 10 furlough days built into the school year.

For this year, five days were added back into the school year, and that is a possibility for the upcoming year as well.

The possibility of adding some days back into the calendar will be discussed in the fall, probably following the setting of the property tax rate, which currently stands at 7.59 mills.

One mill equals $1 per each $1,000 in assessed property value. Property is assessed at 100 percent in Gainesville.

The total 2013-14 budget is set at $68.2 million.

In discussion on the budget, board member Sammy Smith said he believed the school system should consider some financial participation in the city’s convention center study.

“It could well be beneficial for us to have a downtown venue for our students,” he said.

“Schools generate lots of traffic and sales tax for a city event.”

In May, Gainesville City Council awarded the bid for the convention center and hotel feasibility study to consulting firms Key Advisors Inc. and the Bleakly Advisory Group.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development gave the city a grant of $25,000 for the study’s first phase. If Gainesville decides to continue with a second phase, it would pay all of the cost.

The study is supposed to determine what options Gainesville has in developing a venue successful in attracting large meetings, conferences and entertainment.

Board Chairwoman Maria Calkins said Smith’s request could be discussed at the board’s retreat, set for Thursday at the school board offices, 508 Oak St.

Smith also told Janet Allison, the system’s chief financial officer, that he is interested in “an adjustment in our tuition structure.”

“I have proposed for staff discussion ... some opportunities that could come in terms of revenues, which I think it has been established that we need,” Smith said.

“We discussed this recently as a board when we were doing our strategic planning for this budget, so we have discussed it this fiscal year,” Calkins said.

“We can discuss it again, but I think, for this budget, the board did discuss it."

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