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School board votes for tax increase
by Reggie Ross, Staff Writer
Jun 12, 2014 | 126 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Prior to the state-sent financial advisor Bo Surrell speaking to the Carroll County School Board of Trustees, president Laura Davis revealed that the board voted unanimously to ask for a four percent tax increase in ad valorem taxes for the upcoming school year in a May 22 special-called meeting. The board voted unanimously to approve the minutes of that meeting. The four percent, which awaits approval from the county board of supervisors, is the maximum increase allowed by law.

In his last meeting, since being selected by the Mississippi Department of Education after a true deficit of $35,463 was spotted in the school district’s annual audit, Surrell instructed the board on what the district needed to do to stay afloat in the coming months.

Surrell instructed the school board to transfer 16th Section interest funds collected by the end of June into the district maintenance account, due to a cash flow problem. Surrell told board members that there was currently $300,000 in the 16th Section.

“We need to transfer as much as we can,” Surrell said. “We are going to need it.”

Kenneth Deloach, the Beat One trustee, asked if transferring of 16th Section money would be permanent.

“A lot of things we wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for 16th Section,” Deloach said. “Will this be a permanent deal and we use all in the future?”

Surrell informed Deloach that the money is there for this exact reason, and Davis told Deloach that all money transferred would have to come before the board for approval.

Beat Five trustee Rubye Miller made the motion to transfer all available interest funds to the district maintenance fund by June 26. Her motion was seconded by Davis and passed unanimously.

By the night’s end, Dick Lehman, Carroll County landowner and vocal opponent to excess spending in the school district, spoke to the board about his opposition of 16th section spending during the grassroots session, where the audience is allowed to voice an opinion.

“You broke Peter and Paul and can’t pay them back,” Lehman said. “Part of the reason we’re broke is note payments. We have that field house, built a gym and a band hall. This district has a terrible record as far as the children and education.”

Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson made several attempts to give a rebuttal to Lehman’s statements, but he was halted by Davis from doing so.

Prior to the grassroots, the school board voted 4-1 to approve a tax anticipation note to be paid by April 2015. Deloach was the lone no vote.

According to Surrell, the note is allowed by the state to fund district expenses until ad valorem taxes return in the spring. Ferguson said the district is expecting to need $800,000 on a tax anticipation note.

“This is a projection, a guess,” Surrell said. “This is not a new levy and no taxes are involved. It is paid back out of operational funds. There has to be money on the front end until tax revenues are in.”

Deloach then asked questions of who would be responsible if the district could not make the note.

“If the school district defaults on this note, who’d be responsible?” Deloach said.

“I don’t know,” Surrell said. “This is not out of the ordinary. Money would be paid out of regular operating funds.”

APAC extension

A motion from Miller and a second from Beat Three trustee Daniel Vest agreed to ask the Carroll County Board of Supervisors for an extension request by APAC. APAC is seeking a six-month extension on mining working being done on County Road 262 in southwestern Carroll County. Miller’s motion to ask the county supervisors passed unanimously.

For over a year, APAC has mined a section of road approximately 3.25 miles long and running east and west of the main section of County Road 262. Ferguson told the school board the district receives $18,000 monthly from the Black Hawk based mining company.

Board meets new Marshall Principal

The board got a first hand look at new Marshall Elementary principal Fletcher Harges and other new incoming teachers in the district.

Harges, of Grenada, recently served as the assistant superintendent with the Leflore County School District and will take over at the end of the month after the retirement of Laura Curry.

“I’m real excited, blessed and enthused to have you all with the school district,” Ferguson said after the introductions.

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