The Columbia County Commission and school board have held preliminary discussions of their budgets for next fiscal year, and next month those discussions get more serious.
County officials plan to meet Tuesday and May 8 and 15 before adopting the budget June 5.
For the 2012-13 fiscal year, commissioners are considering a general fund budget of about $55 million, similar to the current fiscal year.
Some added expenditures recently discussed by officials include increases to the number of meals delivered to needy seniors, employee raises and five new positions – two in the tax commissioner’s office, an appraiser for the tax assessor’s office, a planner for Development Services and an Evans Towne Center Park manager.
Commissioners also might increase their discretionary funds – which they often use to support various causes – from $6,000 to $10,000 each.
The budget situation is more dire for the school board, which has cut numerous positions with the expectation that they’ll lose up to $13 million in state funding for next year.
The board voted last month to cut more than 40 educator positions and nearly 70 teacher aides to save about $4.5 million in personnel costs.
During a January meeting, Superintendent Charles Nagle told the board that $4 million in savings in the current school year should help with the shortfall, and he hopes growth in the county’s tax digest might make up another $2 million to cover the system’s budget of about $175 million.
More focused budget discussions by the school board will be held May 8, 15 and 22.