State Sen. Cecil Staton has been pushing for Bibb County commissioners to regain control of the Bibb County school systems budget. Expect more pressure on the school system in the coming weeks as the spotlight returns to its finances during the budget season. And expect more debate about how the school systems finances, academics and other challenges need to be juggled by interim or permanent superintendents.
In the last full school year before Superintendent Romain Dallemands arrival, ending June 2010, the system added more than $5.1 million to its reserves. Dallemands last projected budget figures show the system anticipates having to take more than $7.3 million out of reserves this year.
Thats a change in trajectory of $12.5 million annually in just three years, with Dallemand serving a little more than two of those years. The budget cant hold up long to that kind of loss, with the fund balance projected to drop to $16.9 million by this June.
Dallemands severance package is also getting scrutiny. He had an annual salary of $198,000 for about two years, and gets $350,000 in severance pay, plus other benefits. The severance pay nearly doubles his effective annual salary, to about $358,000 per year, or about 2.75 times the rate of pay for the states school superintendent, John Barge.
Thats not chump change, but in context it may not seem quite as bad. At that more than $7.3 million projected deficit for the school system this year, the systems falling short about $20,152 per day, making Dallemands cash severance payment equal to about 17 days worth of school system losses.
Macon resident Martin Bell, the owner of Bell Properties, has been burning the midnight oil.
Bell, who won a 2011 case in his fight with the Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors and the Superior Court Clerks office over fees charged for property revaluation appeals, has his sights set on wide-ranging areas where hed like to see changes in laws or regulations.
Among them: changing where the Board of Equalization meets when it hears appeals, so that its members are separated from tax assessors; changing the Macon Water Authoritys back-flow prevention policy governing which locations need a back-flow prevention device; an energy bill of rights for consumers, dealing with such things as grace periods for bill payments and charges for installation of meters; a change in lease laws to reduce the length of notice needed to terminate a tenancy; and an insurance bill of rights.
Bell said he has broached his ideas with state lawmakers. But since this years legislative session is three-quarters complete, it will be next year before his proposals can get a full airing.
Crawford County commissioners were scheduled to get a presentation from a judge Tuesday, but the appearance of Magistrate Andrea Peterman had to be canceled because she couldnt make the meeting.
Peterman was locked up in the Crawford County jail on charges of fiduciary theft and violation of oath by a public officer.
The group overseeing Macon-Bibb County government consolidation has a number of upcoming meetings scheduled.
The Finance Committee is scheduled to begin a meeting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, followed by a Technology Committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. A planned Thursday meeting of the Human Resources Committee was shifted to the following week.
The full transition task force is scheduled to meet at 3:30 p.m. March 20. On March 21, the Human Resources Committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m., with the Laws Committee meeting at 4 p.m.
All meetings are held in the offices of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, 175 Emery Highway in Macon.
Draft minutes from a Crawford County Commission meeting show residents wanted a new industrial park to attract new businesses to the county, but residents are nervous about the potential to pay more in taxes if the park doesnt succeed and the debt needs to be paid off.
The Development Authoritys Charles Westberry said the possible seller is asking $5,000 an acre for a 140-acre tract, or $700,000.
Aint from around here
New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau attempt to estimate the number of people with commutes of at least an hour. For bigger counties and larger numbers of commuters, the estimates are pretty solid. For tiny ones, well, lets say there are extraordinary margins of error.
For example, coming into Bibb County from Hudson County, N.J., supposedly are 16 commuters, give or take 25.
There are also 50 people coming in from Hamilton County, Tenn., give or take 75. And theres 14 people coming from a county in Maine, give or take 21 people.
When evaluating such estimates, its important to note the margins of errors -- and that Maine has better summers but worse winters.
Macon Mayor Robert Reichert will host his monthly Mayors Night In on Monday, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in his office at City Hall. Mayors Night In lets residents ask questions and express concerns directly to the mayor. They can discuss any topic they wish during their allotted time -- up to 5 minutes.
You can call (478) 751-7170 to schedule a time.
Writers Mike Stucka and Oby Brown contributed to this report.