Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Putnam Budget Committee Helps Schools Cover Deficit

The Putnam County Budget Committee will help fill a $1.7 million deficit in the school budget by recommending the county commission cover school bus expenditures.

The committee approved the some $820,000 expenditure to be paid through its capital projects fund Thursday. Director of Schools Corby King said the school system should be able to cover the some $900,000 that remains.

“We do have a healthy fund balance…not quite as healthy as you have in the county general here, but we have a healthy fund balance right now,” King said. “We need to maintain that, but I think we could possibly recommend to the board using our fund balance to balance the budget.”

King said the money would purchase seven new buses next school year. Committee Chair Ben Rodgers said budgeting the expenditure under capital projects would not impact maintenance of effort.

“You’re just giving them a transfer of money, and it’s not a recurring local revenue that they will receive,” Rodgers said. “So, you can give them more local funding, or you can pay for buses.”

After approving the bus expenditure, the committee also approved the school system’s budget. It includes a $5.2 million increase for pay and insurance, seven new positions and $1.2 million in other expenses such as fuel, utilities and textbooks.

King said next year, the school system should not have to approach the county again for additional funding for at least five years. King said according to the state, the new school funding formula will not initially impact the local level.

“If there is some good news in this, the projections are that our local budget will not be impacted for the next five to seven years,” King said. “Whatever we have this year is what it will be for the next five to seven years. I’m not going to confidently stand here and tell you I won’t be back here asking or not. I shouldn’t be according to their projections.”

The school’s budget includes $104 million of expenditures. Over $85 million of that is made up of wages and benefits for over 700 employees. The budget and school bus expenditure will now need to be approved by the full commission.

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