The Carroll County School Board decided not to request a $45,000 increase in ad valorem taxes that would have raised the millage .67. Now, the board is faced with a looming question, how are they going to pay for the three buses they approved and still have the funds to hire a new superintendent under the budget they approved?
In a 3-2 vote, with Kenneth DeLoach, Donnie Wiltshire and William Downs voting in favor and Stella Washington-Bell and John Phillips casting dissenting votes, the board decided to approve the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget without the $45,000 increase.
However, the purpose of the $45,000 increase, on top of the original amount they asked the board of Supervisors for last year, was to pay for a lease-purchase payment to the Bank of Commerce for three new school buses, which the board approved two weeks ago.
Originally, a majority of the board wanted to keep their ad valorem request the same as last fiscal year. However, recently the district learned that three school buses that were taken to a mechanic in Kosciusko could not be repaired, and they would have to be replaced.
During their June 27 board meeting, Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson told board members that Waters sent a letter to the district stating that “daylight could be seen” in the floor of one of the buses, and they could not repair them. Waters also wrote in the letter the buses were “dangerous” and didn’t need to be on the road.
Ferguson asked the board to approve a request of a $45,000 increase, and initially the board said yes. But, when discussion of the .67 millage increase came into play, some members expressed their concerns about what else Ferguson had planned for the increase in funds.
At the last meeting, DeLoach and Downs complained that the way the numbers were originally presented in June was different during their July 11 meeting. However, according to Business Manager Bret Reynolds, the proposed expenditures were the same. Because, the approved the increase initially, the board had to have a second public hearing on July 15 before approving the budget to explain the increase and allow citizens to comment.
During the June 27 meeting, Ferguson had Bank of Commerce’s Pate Shackleford explain the seven year lease-purchase for the three new buses, totaling around $87,000. He said the payment for the buses would be $40,000.
Ferguson asked the board to approve the $45,000 increase on top of what they asked the county for last year, and the money would be used to help fill some needed staff positions, like teacher aides, and pay the lease on the buses.
Reynolds explained to the board the buses weren’t budgeted in and they needed the increase to pay for them. The board agreed.
In the end, a majority of the board chose not to request an increase.