During the school board’s work session on Wednesday, they will consider using $20.3 million from SPLOST II to offset a proposed millage rate increase to 19.9 mills for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1.
The board will also hear a budget update from Chief Financial Officer Mike Addison and discuss how to explain the budget and expected $62.4 million deficit to the community.
If approved, the buydown will keep the school’s property tax rate at 18.9 mills. This would be the third time the board used excess SPLOST funds to buy down the tax rate, and it would also be the last.
“This is going to virtually eliminate the contingency balance in SPLOST II,” Addison said Monday.
In fact, the board had originally approved a tax rate increase to 20 mills, the maximum allowed, but the contingency fund only had enough funds to buy down the rate from 19.9 mills.
On May 27, 2010, the school board declared $23.63 million to be in excess, and on May 19, 2011, an additional $22.23 million was declared excess. These excess funds were transferred to the general fund to buy down the millage rate.
When asked what the district will do next year, Addison said they are hoping that the economy will rebound and that local and state revenues improve enough to offset the excess SPLOST funds.
In other business, Addison will give the board an update on the budget, which he said contains very few changes from what he said at the January board session.
In January, Addison proposed cutting 350 teaching positions, increasing class sizes by two students, increasing the number of furlough days from two to five, reducing the number of school days from 180 to 175, delaying salary step increases by half a year, eliminating 50 library positions, reducing funding for Project 2400 by half next year and eliminating by 2014 and taking about $21.5 million from the $99.8 million fund balance.
He anticipates the board approving the FY13 budget by the end of June.
Board member Lynnda Eagle, who represents northwest Cobb, has requested they talk about a presentation to address the public about the budget shortfall and proposed cuts.
“I just don’t think anybody likes surprises,” she said. “As there are difficult decisions to be made along the way, I’d like for us to be able to explain why.”
The presentation would be posted on the district’s website and presented at town hall meetings.
Eagle would like include an explanation of why SPLOST funds can’t be used to pay salaries, how Cobb County compares to neighboring districts and why they don’t receive as much money in property taxes because residents 62 years of age and older are exempt.