County schools eye $23M budget for new year

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Lincoln County School District 2006-2007 budget presentedMonday calls for no increase in property taxes and actually asksless in local funding from county taxpayers.

“We could ask for a 4 percent each and every year, but we don’tneed it,” said Superintendent Terry Brister during a public hearingon the new year spending plan Monday. “What we’re requesting mayactually go down a little once some debt issues are paid.”

The slightly more than $23 million 2006-2007 budget includesapproximately $3 million in local money, nearly $13 million fromthe state and nearly $7 million in federal and other monies. Thelocal amount for next year is approximately $125,500 less than whatwas requested for the current year.

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“We’re coming out better this year from the state,” said CherylShelby, the district’s business manager.

The state raised retirement and insurance benefits, but alsofunded those increases by raising the amount of money districtswould receive from the its larger coffers, she said.

Also helping the financial picture, the budget includes $220,630to pay off a financial obligation on a 1997 bond issue. Additionalpayments that would normally be made during the year to thataccount can be reallocated or returned to the county, Shelbysaid.

Additional savings will come from a move by the district todissolve the vocational partnership with the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict. The county district typically pays the city district$164,000 per year to use their advanced vocational facilities,Brister said.

The county will continue to offer some basic vocational classeson its four campuses.

“We only had 18 students participating in those classes lastyear and, for the money, it was just not economically feasible,”Brister said. “We’re looking to advance our vocational classes atour campuses in the future.”

Brister said he was proud the district would be able to lessenits impact on the finances of local tax payers. He said the boardhad strived for several years not to ask for more thannecessary.

“Now, when the time comes we need to ask for an increase, we cando so without embarrassment because we didn’t raise it when wedidn’t have to. You won’t feel guilty about doing that,” Bristersaid.

In other spending areas, the largest chunk of the budget -$12.6million – is for salaries and fringe benefits, Shelby said.

More than $1 million has been earmarked for new property, shesaid. More than half of those funds, $570,500, is targeted forcapital projects, including roof repairs on all campuses and othersmaller projects. Other new budgeted property includes four buses,a vehicle for the technology department and computers and otherequipment.

The board is expected to formally adopt the budget June 28 at 5p.m. in the central office.

In other matters, Brister said there has been a big push by thecontractor to complete the construction of a new classroom buildingat West Lincoln Attendance Center. He said the contractor hasindicated the building could be completed by the end of August.