Although the Bibb County school board adopted its budget in June, the board is now facing an unexpected $700,000 shortfall.
But Monday, board President Gary Bechtel said there’s no plan to raise taxes to make up the difference.
“I don’t see the board has the stomach to advocate a tax increase,” he said. “I think we will have to stumble along the general fund and hope the state doesn’t hit us with any additional reduction.”
Bechtel said the system may have to dip into its roughly $13 million reserve fund, although the board would have to make that decision.
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The reason for the deficit is mostly because of state revenue declines, officials said. State and federal funds are anticipated to be $317,821 less than the board anticipated in June when adopting the fiscal 2011 budget, said Ron Collier, the school system’s chief financial officer.
“Our state revenues are still down, and when revenues are down the state has to make cuts,” he said. In addition, federal funding is down because money dedicated for 2011 actually was issued in 2010.
The system also received a revised tax digest July 28, which showed local tax money for the school system dropped $423,302 from the original digest, Collier said.
“Usually, we estimate that it will go up,” Collier said.
It’s the first time Bechtel has seen this kind of decline in the local tax digest, which showed a $106 million decrease in the county, Bechtel said.
The digest is down about $37 million in real estate, $10 million in car purchases and $49 million in personal property, according to tax digest information provided to the school system.
The school system’s millage rate was 17.9 mills in fiscal 2010. For rollback rate calculations — made necessary by countywide property revaluations — to be revenue neutral, the school millage rate would be set at 18.097 mills.
The school board plans to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday to tentatively adopt its millage rate, but Bechtel said he doubts the board will raise taxes.
The school system aims to spend $178.5 million this school year and projects to collect $77.6 million of that amount from local property taxes.
In other business Monday, the school board appointed Kathy Reese as interim deputy superintendent of teaching and learning. Reese is currently an assistant superintendent for school administration and is a former Rutland High School principal. She replaces Cathy Magouyrk, who left for a central office job in Douglas County.
The board also pre-approved 16 architectural firms that can bid on projects in the system’s 2010 capital improvement plan. In 2009, Bibb County voters elected to continue a 1 cent sales tax over the next five years to raise up to $176 million to build five elementary schools, buy new technology and upgrade the system’s athletics facilities.
The athletics facilities projects will begin this school year.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.