Schools being good stewards of revenue

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 30, 2008

While never really flush with funding, the Brookhaven andLincoln County school districts are nevertheless forecasting noproperty tax increases to support school operations in the upcomingyear.

That certainly is good news for district citizens as they facedifficult times of escalating food and fuel costs and otherexpenses. The districts, though, are not immune from those highercosts, as both have substantially increased the amounts to be setaside for fuel.

Many potential hardships have been alleviated to some degreethanks to the state Legislature’s decision to fully fund theMississippi Adequate Education Program. That is particularlynoteworthy in this non-election year and will mean about $573,000more for the Brookhaven School District and approximately $439,000more for the Lincoln County School District.

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Thanks to the full funding and a decrease in liability insurancecosts, county school district officials said they were able toincrease the fuel budget by 138 percent to $500,000 while still nothaving to cut any programs or services. Using the full fuelallotment, one official said, would be a “worst-case scenario.”

City school district officials plan to keep a close watch overfuel and other expenses in the coming year. According to thebudget, $125,000 of a planned increase is slated for fuel.

Both school districts’ budgets were approved this past week.They will be presented later this year to city aldermen and countysupervisors, who will be responsible for setting property taxlevies sufficient to meet their respective districts’ fundingrequests.

While state lawmakers apparently can’t agree on a fundingsolution for Medicaid, they did realize the importance of fullyfunding a vital component in the state’s education structure. That,combined with good stewardship by school officials on the locallevel, should go a long way toward making tax time a little lesstaxing for citizens later this year.