“Is it one thing that will be discussed this year? Yes, I feel like it will be discussed,” said David Johnson, county school board chairman. “Is it likely it’s going to happen? That would be up to five board members to join and make that decision.”
Johnson said increasing taxes is always a consideration — but not necessarily an action — when it comes to hashing out the budget.
“We have had discussions about raising the millage rate,” Johnson said. “We’ve had discussions about other savings that we could do. Everything is part of the budget process.”
Currently, he said, the tax rate is 18.588 mills, and it has stayed at that amount since 2009. In 2007, the rate was 18.996, and the following year it was 18.676.
Johnson said that if the school system had raised taxes in the past, it probably would not have prevented the need to execute a RIF, through which Superintendent Jeff McDaniel hopes to trim $7 million in salaries.
“With the decrease in funding — and currently there’s a 20-mill cap on (school) taxes — even if we raised it to the maximum, it would not have produced or saved as much money as we needed to do,” Johnson said. “Therefore, unfortunately, we had to take the steps of doing a reduction in the force.”
According to the working budget for the current fiscal year, Floyd County Schools’ general fund beginning balance was $95.3 million.
The system’s total projected revenue for 2012-13 is listed as $87,045,280, with $56.2 million coming from state sources and $30 million coming from local taxes. Another $712,000 in projected revenue comes from other local sources such as interest income and donations.
The system also gets $12.6 million from the federal government, but that money must be spent on the specific line items they are attached to — such as special education, food and nutrition, and Title I programs.
“Is (raising taxes) something that’s imminent, that we would do for next school year? I would not say that,” Johnson said. “We’re looking at anything we can do. If you’re looking at a national scale, you can either raise taxes or reduce expenses. We’ve taken the step to begin the process of trying to reduce expenses before we look at the process of other means of revenue.”
Board member George Bevels said he is unsure if the changes in personnel would be permanent.
“I have no idea,” he said. “Everything hinges on the economy. Hopefully this is not the way we’re going to be from now on, but I don’t know,” Bevels said.
Vice Chairman Terry Williamson said a lot depends on what happens with state funding.
“We’ve faced $50 million (in state funding cuts) in 10 years,” he said, adding that “it depends on what the state does. But the best I can tell, the economy is getting a little better; … maybe it’s not as bad. To be honest with you, I don’t know how they can take much more money from us.”
Staff writer Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.