Schools to Get Slightly More Local Funds due to Growth in new Budget, but to Receive One Cent Less from the Property Tax Rate

July 28, 2010
Dwayne Page

Teachers and other certified personnel and support staff are budgeted a small pay raise under the proposed 2010-11 tentative general purpose spending plan for schools, which is expected to be acted on by the DeKalb County Commission on August 10th.

The proposed $18 million budget has already been recommended for approval by the county's budget committee but it appears the property tax rate for schools will also be trimmed by one cent from 49 cents to 48 cents per $100 of assessed value. County Mayor Mike Foster says the one cent reduction will not adversely affect the school system. In fact, he says since one cent of the tax rate generates more money than last year due to growth, schools will be getting $59, 956 more in local funds this year than last year exceeding the school board's request for $33,000 in additional local monies in the new budget.

The overall county property tax rate will remain the same without an increase at $1.46 per $100 of assessed value. The tax rate breaks down as follows:

County General 75 cents, up by 8 cents from last year and up by 20 cents from two years ago
Highway/Public Works- 3 cents
General Capital Projects- 8 cents, up by 1 cent from last year
Debt Service-12 cents, down by 8 cents from last year
General Purpose Schools- 48 cents, down by 1 cent from last year

One cent of the tax rate generates $43,920 in local money with a 5.75% delinquency rate figured into the equation.

In addition to the $2-million 127-thousand 365 for schools generated by the 48 cent tax rate, the county commission is transferring $1-million 540 thousand from the $2-million 247-thousand 464 local option sales tax fund to help operate schools this year along with $580,534 to fund the school debt service for payment on the Northside Elementary School and roof at Smithville Elementary School. The state BEP allocation for schools is $12-million 508-thousand dollars.

The school budget includes a $400 increase per certified position and a 25 cent per hour increase for all support staff positions along with the step increases per salary scales and adjustments for degree advancement per salary scales.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says the total amount of the increase for raises comes to about $150,000 including local matching for social security, retirement, etc, but it's an increase the school system needs to fund, since personnel haven't had a local increase in pay in quite sometime.

The proposed tentative budget also includes one new special education resource teacher for DeKalb County High School to help meet the new diploma requirements. One of the current school nurse positions and two special education assistants, under this budget, would be funded from general purpose schools, rather than federal as they have been in the past. One part-time special education vision teacher position would become full time under this budget.

Perhaps, the category making the single largest impact on the budget is in the state mandated increase in the school system's contribution to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement, going from 6.42% to 9.05% for teachers and from 5.18% to 6.28% for support staff. That totals well over $239,000.

The bottom line on total school expenditures for next year comes to $18,029,136, exceeding total revenues by $770,476. In order to balance the budget, the school board has asked for an appropriation of $712,000 of the local school system's share of state Basic Education Program (BEP) reserves as one-time expenditures and $58,476 of Technology Reserves. The school board did not seek an increase in the local property tax rate for schools, but did request an increase in local revenue of $33,744 over last year's budget to round out this proposed spending plan.

Willoughby says this is another "bare bones" budget. "We have figured a budget that is very close. Not any excess in there. We have figured a pay raise for all our employees. When we look at where their pay was two years ago compared to where it is now, our teachers are actually making less now than what they did two years ago. The state had given them a bonus. That bonus has gone away. This year we have a $400 pay increase for our teachers and we have a 25 cent per hour increase in there for support staff, which on an eight hour day out of ten months would equal $400, the same as for the teachers. This is again a bare bones budget. We're asking for approximately $33,000(increase) from the county and we actually think that would be growth money so we hope this budget will be accepted by the county commission. Keep in mind that while there is very little money in there for pay raises, approximately $150,000 in pay raises for our system, everything (cost of living) has gone up for our employees also, whether it be gas, food, etc. Our employees have needs so we have included that raise in there, which there hasn't been one for our employees for a while."

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