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School board approves tax increase

Posted: May 28, 2013 - 7:20pm  |  Updated: June 2, 2013 - 12:02am
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Linda Roselli, a paraprofessional at Brookwood Elementary School, received the 2013 Margaret Rodgers Scholarship Award Tuesday during the Board of Education meeting. The annual $1,000 scholarship goes to a noncertified school system employee who is enrolled in college. With Roselli is Eloise Rodgers Hancock, Rodgers' daughter.  Photos by Barry Paschal
Photos by Barry Paschal
Linda Roselli, a paraprofessional at Brookwood Elementary School, received the 2013 Margaret Rodgers Scholarship Award Tuesday during the Board of Education meeting. The annual $1,000 scholarship goes to a noncertified school system employee who is enrolled in college. With Roselli is Eloise Rodgers Hancock, Rodgers' daughter.

Property taxes will rise in Columbia County this year after initial approval of a 1-mill tax hike by the Board of Education.

On a 4-1 vote Tuesday, trustees agreed with a recommendation by outgoing School Superintendent Charles Nagle for a tax increase that amounts to roughly $40 per $100,000 in assessed property value. They also agreed to eliminate 20 custodial jobs.

“Even raising this budget by 1 mill is balancing this budget on just what we can get by with,” Nagle said during a budget hearing prior to the board session.

Years of state budget cuts, coupled with the county’s rising student population, had the school system facing an $11.5 million deficit when the budget process started, Nagle said. After taking nearly $7 million from the system’s reserve fund, school officials had to find an additional $4.6 million to balance the nearly $178 million budget.

About $600,000 in cuts will come from reducing the number of custodians by 20, to 140, for the system’s 32 schools, central office and other facilities. The tax hike is expected to generate $4 million to fill the remaining gap.

“Our people in our county are committed to having a good education and the best school system we can have,” said Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco. “If they’re willing to spend extra money for channels on TV, I think they’re willing to spend the extra $50 or $200 or whatever ... on our school system.”

District 3’s Mike Sleeper, who voted against the tax hike, said he preferred the system furlough school employees for two days and “go from there.”

The board is expected to give final approval to the budget, including the tax hike, on June 11.

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Comments (15)

Just My Opinion

Sleeper thinks the easiest

Sleeper thinks the easiest thing to do is to have the school employees continue to shoulder the fiscal responsibility of balancing the budget all on their own. Who should pay for the costs of administration? The employees. Who should pay the costs of technology and training? The employees. Who should pay the costs of increased food, classroom and office supplies, and text book expenditures? The employees. I could go on...and so would Mike Sleeper if given the chance. The man is either out of touch or he simply doesn't care about the school employees.
I'd like to thank the other members of the school board for showing great wisdom and fairness in making this very difficult decision.

Little Lamb

Wait Till Next Year

There will likely be another budget deficit next year. Now that the precedent is set, expect recurring tax millage increases.

resident

We still Waste too much!!!!!!!!!!!!

We start school in the HOTTEST MONTH of the YEAR historically, we have Diesel buses when I am sure savings could be obtained by co-op with Dixie or Georgia Natural Gas, We still have external AC going in schools instead of central heat and cool, we have no solar Grid attached systems. There is so much room for efficiency but it is ignored completely by board members, transportation, and building engineers! I bet we could have solar installed for say $200K probably high that would be grid attached and basically keep us from drawing from Georgia Power during the day Large quantities of power. The purpose of this type is not to replace but augment power thus saving I would guess in the millions in electricity costs over a few years. There are companies and Even the Georgia Power monopoly that have co-op programs for this. Propane or Natural Gas bus conversion is $2K per bus. Look at the cost per BTU or gallon compared to diesel. Again I would bet that this can be covered by grants and co-op and the savings more than pays for this. Stop wasting money on books that are not used but simply to say yes we have them and comply with some sort of accrediting requirement, this is very common!

Increase in students.. Seems like if we have so many new houses and people we should have the increased revenues to go with it...Why is this not matching up? So her are some easy suggestions that require overpaid administration to do their job and really look at stuff, manage resources, improve efficiency, save tax payer money, and provide for a good education!

Sam_Malone

Tax Hike...Really?!!

So, instead of making the tough decisions that were needed to balance the budget, the board took the easy way out by raising taxes. How typical of our elected politicians these days! With a simple review of the budget, I guarantee I could have cut $11.5 million without even having to touch the reserve fund.

The quote by the board chair, Ms. Buffcafusco, may be one of the most absurd statements I have heard in a long time. If there is one thing everybody should know by now, throwing money at education does not insure higher quality. All her statement shows is she is out of touch. Because of their excessive costs, cable companies are in serious trouble these days. People are no longer willing to spend extra money for channels on TV and are shedding this service in droves. It appears to be time to shed ourselves of some school board members as well.

Spelunkerman

Don't blame the school system

Blame the Republicans in Atlanta. As a life long Republican, I am dismayed at the assault my party has waged on local school systems. If the Governor and his entourage of merry men would adequately fund local systems, the local populous would not be asked to give more.

Just My Opinion

Sam, I'd like to know what

Sam, I'd like to know what sort of cuts you would make that would come close to $11.5 million. No, I'm not challenging you, I'd just like to know. I really think that this move by the school board was made to protect the people who have historically (recently historical, anyway) been made the scapegoat for absorbing the cuts, and that's the teachers and other employees. Please don't tell me that this is what's happening in other industries....not year in and year out like it has been done here in Columbia County. But I'm getting off topic....please let us know how YOU would make significant cuts in the budget, and are you making those cuts with the well-being of the children in mind? Also, I think it'd be important to your credibility on this matter to let us know how you are ably qualified to come to your decisions. Thanks.

Barry Paschal

Copy of the budget

Sam_Malone: I have a copy of the budget in my office. You're welcome to it. The system will have final approval of the budget June 11, and additional budget hearings in July. I'm sure the school administration and school board members would welcome your input.

resident: Politifact Georgia examined the statement (because it was made by a political candidate) that starting school in August is more expensive. They found no evidence to support that claim. The other things you suggest would require significant capital investment and potentially could produce savings in the future - but the budget is due July 1.

Sweetson: Your post did not publish because you included a link that requires a login. You should instead just spell out your comments.

RMSHEFF

Tax hike....again

I detect a arrogant and condescending attitude in Mrs Buccafusco statement that seems to be all to prevalent in many that have made government service their profession. She said “If they’re willing to spend extra money for channels on TV, I think they’re willing to spend the extra $50 or $200 or whatever... on our school system". This is an entitlement mentality on her part. If you have money to spend for a luxury like pay channels on television then certainly you can cough up a couple hundred dollars for the children. It seems that some that have spent their lives in the public sector can't relate to those of us that have to make do with what we have. We have to make the tough choices to do without things we would like to have and eliminate things that are not absolutely necessary. For them the solution is always to raise taxes. I for one would like to see the school system get back to the basics and have all extra curricular activities be funded privately. I left columbia county in 2005 due to high property taxes and until the taxpayers take a stand against these career bureaucrats who think they are entitled to you money, property taxes will continue to escalate.

RMSHEF

Sweet son

Glad the rest of you are allowed to have your comment posted!

My earlier comment was not posted because it contained a link to the CCBOE website. In the link was an organizational chart which I suggested should take some hits rather than the custodians. Custodians and para pros are pretty much on the bottom of the chart and have been hit too hard. Through attrition or other means the top heavy chart should be reduced!

school bus driver

Guaranteed Raises

Doesn't everyone know besides me, that if the school system does not furlough employees, all Administrators will get a raise?
I really feel sorry for the possibly 20 Custodians that will loose their jobs! Wasn't there something else that could have been done? What about making 10 hour, 4-days a work-week? We school bus drivers have not seen a raise in MANY MANY years, even though the children and routes increase every year. Yes, most of our busses are climate controlled ( These precious children can't handle the heat), but what about going a year or two without buying climate controlled busses? Wouldn't that help SOME? I would like to think CCBOE will offer these poor unemployed Custodians a position elsewhere instead of send them to the unemployment line....

SchoolBusDriver

class1

Furlough Days

Two furlough days in conjunction with Thanksgiving Week, Monday and Tuesday, would have helped the situation.

Barry Paschal

Four 10-hour days?

School bus driver: Wouldn't switching to four-day work-weeks have the affect of 36 furlough days on every bus driver and nutrition worker?

resident

@Barry Capital

I agree it would have taken capital money somewhat..But the solar is not a possible return it is a guarantee because you would have it running in the months there is no school as well. It could have been included in the plan on a new building and also could be in some of the modifications to existing buildings. Buses could be modified inside of the regular budget money if they would set aside maintenance money to convert them. I can't speak for pricing or how the programs work but I am sure they exist. The savings on bus conversions I think even though you are correct it is future is not something that would not be realized for sure. Not only is it less polluting (for those green types) but costs less to consume and this from a budget perspective is a real recognizable benefit. I am pretty sure there are federal grants and also tax benefits for doing this. I know tax it not really a big issue but still has to be figured into the formula.

Spelunkerman

Ironic statements

"The cornerstone of Democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate" - Jefferson

There is an assault on Public Education that is concerning to me. As the spouse of an educator, I see first hand the impact our Governor and his decisions are making on our local system. It is ironic that we are attacking the very thing that is our future. I'm all for reducing taxes by eliminating wasteful spending, but education shouldn't be where we start. Read the story "years of STATE budget cuts". The money to educate the population has to come from somewhere.
I'm unclear where teaching children fell to only those who chose education as a profession. My profession had me move all over this country and can tell you our local government does an amazing job with taxes and spending compared to "blue states". If it costs me another $100.00 a year, so be it. I'll do without my latte' for a month.

maandpa

Right on

@Just My Opinion: You have addressed the topic perfectly. Mike Sleeper is out of touch...and this is not the first time that Sleeper has revealed this problem.

I remember once a long time ago McDonalds put their district/regional managers behind the counter to flip the hamburgers so that they could be better managers....

I also thank the other members of the board who have made a tough decision.

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