County gives schools additional $520,000

May 04, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

After agreeing to give the Board of Education another $520,000, the Washington County Commissioners unanimously adopted its fiscal 2000 budget Tuesday.

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The commissioners balanced the general fund budget at an April 20 meeting after making some cuts, including giving the School Board $1.9 million less than requested. The fiscal year begins July 1.

At an April 27 public hearing that attracted about 185 residents, the commissioners heard many pleas to give the School Board more money.

The commissioners Tuesday made a few adjustments to the budget, including giving the Board of Education $520,000 for two one-time costs. Those costs are installing interactive television and preparing for any possible Year 2000 computer problems.


Money for that increase came from an expected fiscal 1999 budget surplus of about $3 million, Budget and Finance Director Debra Bastian said.

The total budget is $161 million while the general fund budget is $114.3 million, according to the budget and finance director's office.

The approved general fund budget gives the Board of Education a total of about $61.7 million. "It wasn't as good as we hoped it was going to be, but we can't sit here and cry about it," said School Board President Edwin Hayes.

The School Board requested a $6.4 million increase in operating costs this fiscal year, an 11.8 percent increase over the current year. About 58 percent of the county's budget goes toward education with the School Board getting nearly 54 percent of it. Hagerstown Community College gets the rest.

The commissioners considered giving an additional $30,000 from the general fund to the School Board with the request that the money pay for raises for contract bus drivers. Instead the commissioners decided to ask the School Board to use previously allocated money for that purpose.

The increased costs were paid by increasing by $91,000 the amount the county expects to receive from the recordation tax. That increased project is based on a strong economy, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook praised the four new commissioners for balancing the budget without raising taxes but warned them that their work won't get any easier next year.

The commissioners also reversed a prior decision to give the Washington County Commuter $32,000 less than requested, which the commissiones were told would result in the transit service having to cut one bus service and one driver.

The commission also decided to give $30,000 more to the Washington County Free Library and $29,000 more to the Washington County Commission on Aging.

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