A Van Buren County Commission and Board of Education joint work session Wednesday resulted in new budget practices the school system plans to follow.
Director of Schools Cheryl Cole said she does not include federal money and grant applications in the revenue line item but includes the money in expenditures. Commissioner William Maxwell said the practice is a problem on paper.
“We (County Commission) put any grant that has been applied for at budget time is included in the revenue whether we get it or not,” Maxwell said. “We can’t turn in a budget like this and according to the Comptroller from what my understanding is from what they said, they’re not going to approve your budget fourth coming year like this again.”
Maxwell said he recommended two options for a balanced budget: removing grants or federal money all together and approve budget amendments when that funding comes in or add the two items to the revenue line.
“The Comptroller’s issue with this is the school board as well as the county commission has passed this budget that’s in an excess of revenue,” Maxwell said. “They’re saying that we have gave the school system, and I’m not saying that they would, but in their eyes, we have gave the school system the go ahead to spend more money than they are going to make in revenue. If you look at these on paper, that’s what they’re saying.”
Cole said using budget amendments is the plan for next fiscal year. Cole said the budget may currently look like it has a budget deficit, but that is not the case.
“I agree with that, but we haven’t requested all of our money from the federal part of it,” Cole said. “We haven’t paid it all out yet, and we can’t request it until we pay out until the end of June.”
Commissioners and school board members spent about 45 minutes reviewing the school’s budget Wednesday. The school system has $7.6 million in revenues and $7.4 million in expenditures.