‘Public’ interest missing at two budget meetings

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 25, 2001

With state funding cuts, rising utility expenses and other moneyconcerns, school districts across the state are asking taxpayers tofoot a larger portion of the education bill.

Judging by the attendance — or lack of it — at last week’spublic hearings on the proposed multi-million dollar budgets forthe Brookhaven and Lincoln County school districts, citizens aretrusting school leaders to chart a proper course and hopefully nottake too much in taxes to do it. County schools are asking foraround $154,000 more in property tax revenue while city schools areseeking approximately $28,000.

Despite legislature-mandated “Notice of Tax Increase”advertisements and news reports on the meetings, citizens last weekcontinued their tradition of keeping the public away from the”public” hearings.

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Some school officials dispute the required “tax increase”advertisements as misleading in that the tax levy rate may actuallygo down. Regardless, true or not, the notices are not enough togenerate interest in a discussion on how the schools plan to spendtaxpayer money.

Superintendents in both the city and county school districts saythey are trying to be “good stewards” of taxpayers’ money and givetaxpayers “their money’s worth.”

We find no fault in their efforts in that regard. Still, anoccasional public hand on the educational ship’s rudder couldn’thurt.