FORT VALLEY -- The Peach County school system will reimburse $103,000 from its general fund to its 2005 special purpose local option sales tax fund to account for misspent revenue from that referendum, following a unanimous board vote at a meeting Tuesday.
In a special called meeting, school board attorney Buddy Welch gave a report about more than $267,000 marked by school leaders as potential expenditures that were not approved in the 2005 SPLOST referendum.
Of that amount, Welch’s report to the board indicated about $103,000 of that amount was improperly spent according to the SPLOST’s parameters.
That figure may change slightly, depending on whether school officials can determine whether an unknown manual check for $1,245.60 was spent for SPLOST-related purposes.
Welch said he consulted previous board counsel, bond counsel, school system finance representatives and school staff to prepare his report. Included in the unapproved expenditures are $33,675.62 for an easement near Byron Middle School approved in 2007. While the board at the time otherwise followed the proper procedures for the easement, it should not have been funded with SPLOST money, Welch said.
The school system also improperly spent $32,457.50 in acquisition and evaluation costs of property owned by Blue Bird Body Co. in 2007 and 2008, according to financial documents provided at the meeting. No board meeting minutes indicated the board authorized an evaluation or executed a contract with Blue Bird before spending the SPLOST funds, according to Welch’s report.
With no guarantee the property owner -- Blue Bird, in this case -- would comply with any oral discussions of the matter, the acquisition of land must be in writing before spending the money, according to Georgia law, Welch said.
In a similar case, the board authorized the district to begin contract negotiations for property owned by Hancock Farms in 2007 and later set forth terms of purchase for it. However, the board did not authorize the expenditure of funds for an evaluation first.
That action contributes $20,448 to the $103,000 the school system will now have to take out from its general fund.
The $103,000 will need to be transferred to the district’s 2005 SPLOST account. From there, that money will be paid into a 2008A Bond Sinking Fund, which will refund 1998 bonds referenced in the 2005 SPLOST ballot.
Peach County must submit its list of 2005 SPLOST expenditures to the Georgia Department of Audits on Wednesday.
The district must also publish it in the county’s legal organ, The Leader Tribune, by Dec. 31. School officials expect to print the information there next week.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.