Officials reaffirmed Tuesday that they will propose a $133 million budget for Columbia County School Board approval this month.
Board members took a second look at the multimillion-dollar proposed budget during a special meeting at Riverside Middle School.
The 2005-06 school year budget is nearly $4 million more than the current year and could create a $1.7 million deficit, Schools Superintendent Tommy Price said.
"Anytime you see a budget you want to see a balanced budget," Price said. "As you know, we haven't been able to do that over the past few years."
Cuts in state funding and growing personnel needs, such as hiring new faculty members to man the new River Ridge Elementary School, have led to a budget deficit, Price told school trustees.
The school system should get some help from a reassessment of property values in Columbia County. Price said the reassessment could produce about $450,000 in additional revenue not accounted for in the proposed budget.
Price was quick to point out that had the state Legislature not struck the county with a $4.1 million austerity reduction, there would be no deficit.
State officials use a formula based on student 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.
"If they had given us what we earned, based on their own formula, we'd have a $2 million surplus," Price said.
Although Gov. Sonny Perdue promised not to increase the austerity reductions, systems will still lose the same amount each did this school year, Price said.
A final budget study will be held at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday before a regular board session. School system controller Pat Sullivan said her office will likely present a revised budget for tentative board approval May 24.
Officials will then advertise the budget and seek final approval in June.
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