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Schools feel the pinch from tight county budget

May 22, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

After learning there probably will be little, if any, county budget surplus this fiscal year, members of the Washington County Board of Commissioners said Tuesday they can't give the Board of Education an additional $448,000.

When the commissioners adopted the county's annual budget on May 14, some said they would consider giving an additional $448,000 to the School Board, contingent on the county finishing the fiscal year with a budget surplus.

At Tuesday's meeting, Budget and Finance Director Debra Bastian said it appeared the county would barely break even for the fiscal year.

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As a result, the commissioners said they would be unable to provide the additional money.

Bastian said some county revenues will be lower than expected. She estimated, for example, that the county will receive about $1.4 million less in income tax proceeds than budgeted for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said revenue is down because of the slowdown in the economy.

At last week's meeting, Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger suggested that if the county finished the year with a surplus, it could give the School Board $448,000 in cash reserves to pay for eight school buses instead of taking the money from the general fund. As a result, the commissioners would have $448,000 more to give to the School Board for its operating budget, he said.

The budget adopted by the commissioners gives the School Board $70.1 million for operating expenses. That's an increase over the $68.3 million the School Board received for the current fiscal year, but less than the $74.1 million the School Board requested for next fiscal year.

The budget also includes $448,000 for the school buses and an $876,584 state disparity grant to the School Board for being in one of the state's poorer counties.

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