County schools holding line on local funding

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 20, 2005

Lincoln County School District officials hope to hear publiccomments on the 2005-06 budget and their proposal not to requestmore property tax millage from the county during a public hearingMonday at 4:30 p.m. in the central office.

Superintendent Terry Brister said not only is the board notrequesting more millage from the county, but it will also requestthe same amount of funding received during the last fiscal year.Millage is used in conjunction with property values to determinehow much owners pay in property taxes each year.

The district received $11.4 million in state-allocatedMississippi Adequate Education Program funding for the 2005-2006fiscal year, up from $10.5 million last year. However,state-mandated teacher pay raises and associated increases inbenefits, such as health insurance and retirement, were projectedto cost the district $968,000, said Cheryl Shelby, districtbusiness manager.

Actual costs came in under the projections and left the districtwith approximately $15,000 for other programs, she said. Teachersalaries are only part of the budget that MAEP is used to fund.

“It wasn’t rosy but we were able to get done what we needed toget done,” Brister said.

The superintendent said the district was not able to progress insome programs as planned, but the funding was enough to enable themnot to cut any teachers or programs.

“We came out OK,” Brister said. “MAEP came up short, but we’vebeen able to move things around and give the taxpayers a break.We’ve had increases within the past few years and we’re glad wedon’t have to ask for that again this year.”

County Administrator David Fields predicted the school’s budgetrequest would have minimal impact on the county budget whensupervisors meet to finalize it later this year.

“If they’re not asking for a tax increase, odds are there won’tbe a millage increase (in the county budget),” Fields said. “Iwon’t know for sure until later.”

The administrator said he would need to see the final results ofthe county’s assessed values figures from the Tax Assessor’s Officebefore he could determine the county budget. Those figures areusually given to him around the end of July or early August, hesaid.