Columbia County school officials proposed a $133 million budget for the 2005-06 school year at a meeting Tuesday.
About $4 million more than the projected expenditures for 2004-05, the increase takes into account a 2 percent teacher raise recently approved by Gov. Sonny Perdue and 84 jobs being added in the school system.
Many of the positions were created to fill posts at the new River Ridge Elementary School, which opens in August.
"We have to staff the new school," said Pat Sullivan, the school system's controller. "For the most part, that makes up that total."
About $119 million of the budget will be used to pay salaries and benefits. An estimated $6 million will be needed to pay for fuel, insurance, textbooks, buses, utilities and other necessary expenses. All other equipment, software and supplies will require about $8 million, officials said.
"We don't have any fluff anywhere," Schools Superintendent Tommy Price told board members.
Local taxpayers will pay more than $48 million of the budget, officials said. The federal government will fund $440,000, and the state will pay $82.9 million.
Still, because of austerity reductions, the state is paying a little more than $4 million less than what is due Columbia County.
The state uses a formula based on pupil population to determine how much to fund a school system. During the past three years, state officials have withheld a portion of that funding, called austerity reductions, because of a budget crisis.
State lawmakers recently said they will not increase the austerity reductions for the 2005-06 school year.
"Each year for the last three years, the state has been increasing the amount of the austerity reduction," Sullivan said.
"What they recently said, which I think was misleading, is that they're not increasing the amount, but they're still taking the same amount they took this year as next year."
Officials will hold another meeting Tuesday at 8 a.m. to field questions from school board members about the budget. Another meeting will be held May 10 at 4 p.m. to present further refinements.
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