BOE facing budget crunch again

Published 5:13 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Board of Education Budget Update (PDF, 988 kb)

As members of the Decatur County Board of Education begin the process of crafting a 2012-2013 budget, serious financial issues continue to plague the school system.

Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield and Chief Financial Office Tim Matthews updated the board members with forecasted revenue and expense figures for the upcoming year during the regularly scheduled board meeting last Thursday.

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The system expects to have general fund revenues of $34.17 million and expenses of $37.38 million for the 2013 fiscal year, a gap of $3.2 million. The forecasted beginning fund balance going into next year would be $2.82 million, down from $4.68 million the previous year.

The decrease in the fund balance is due to making up a budget gap of $1.86 million from the current school year.

“The $3.2 million that we are short combines what we were short of balancing last year with what are shortfalls are this year. With everything remaining constant, we don’t do anything, we are $3.2 million from what most of us would define as a balanced budget,” Rayfield said.

Continued reductions in Georgia’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding are shifting more of the burden of operating the school system to the local level. Austerity cuts from the state for the upcoming year total $4.12 million.

Additionally, the value of a mill of property tax in Decatur County is on a downward trend. Since 2008, the decline in property values in the county has decreased the value of one mill by almost $100,000. The total forecasted revenue from county property taxes for the 2013 fiscal year is $10.53 million, or $811,000 per one mill.

The current millage rate for the local system is 12.99 mills, with .47 mills of that total allocated to the regional library. The resulting actual rate for the school system is 12.52 mills per thousand dollars of appraised value of property.

The property tax rate for Decatur County is the lowest in southwest Georgia and 19th lowest among Georgia’s 180 school systems.

Rayfield offered some potential solutions to the budget shortfall.

“Through our retirements and resignations, there are 24 positions available. We can shift people around, not hire anybody, and save about $1.5 million,” Rayfield said. “But, with those positions, that will push us past the 100 mark in terms of eliminated positions over the last three years. That is significant. Significant from a monetary standpoint, but even more significant from a productivity standpoint and what we’re able to deliver everyday.”

Additionally, Rayfield indicated that the system could save $164,217 by eliminating the 1 percent match to employees’ tax shelter annuity, and could save $150,011 for each additional furlough day. Six furlough days are already built into the budget projections and will remain next year. Lastly, the system could increase revenue by $811,100 for each mill increase of the current property tax.

“Those are our solutions,” Rayfield said. “Unless you do a massive, and I emphasize the word massive, reduction in force and there will not be a soul sitting at this table that a reduction in force would not affect in some way.”

The board must create and adopt a fiscal year 2013 budget by June 30.

The detailed report presented to the board is available in its entirety by visiting

Board of Education Budget Update (PDF, 988 kb)