Columbia County’s school board members postponed a decision to increase taxes at their Tuesday meeting.
They will revisit the issue May 28, when they are expected to decide whether to raise taxes, approve other ways to balance next school year’s budget, or both.
Superintendent Charles Nagle told board members they need to find $4.6 million to balance the $178 million budget. Nagle recommended a one-mill tax increase that would generate about $4 million. The increase would cost taxpayers about $40 per year per $100,000 in home value, Nagle said.
“We’re at a point that unless we do something different to bring in revenue, we’re not going to be able to continue,” Nagle said.
Nagle presented several other options to make up small parts of the budget deficit, including contracting out custodial services, reducing paraprofessionals and contingency positions, increasing class sizes and eliminating middle and high school extracurricular activities.
School Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said she supports the tax increase because the public demands a good education system.
Board member Mike Sleeper suggested the board consider furloughing employees, which would save about $750,000 per day while schools close. He also recommended the board revisit the issue of outsourcing janitorial services.
“It’s something I think that has to be considered,” Sleeper said, adding that before he votes to raise taxes, “I want to say we’ve done everything and then some.”
Board members Roxanne Whitaker didn’t like the idea of furloughs, stating that teachers have endured enough cuts and most haven’t seen a raise in years.
“They probably do the most important job in this country,” Whitaker said.
The board cancelled a budget meeting slated for May 21, and instead will meet at 4 p.m. on May 28 before the regularly scheduled school board meeting. They are expected to take action at that session.