By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
At the end of the June 10th Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting there were six items on the consent agenda and the motion was made to approve them all at one time.
Before a vote could be taken Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) said he had some questions about item f. – Approval of Greene County Public Schools Surplus Funds Policy. So, the Board of Supervisors approved the first 5 items with one vote and then came back to item f.
Item f is a Board of Supervisors Policy Statement titled Greene County Public Schools Surplus Funds to be Designated to Capital Projects. The concept was discussed by the Board at a previous meeting but no formal vote was taken. As there was general agreement among Board members about the policy it was brought forward as a consent agenda item.
”As a policy of the Greene County Board of Supervisors, any Greene County Public Schools operating budget surplus funds may be specifically designated to Greene County Public Schools capital projects on an annual basis, subject to Board of Supervisors approval.”
Supervisor Lamb raised concerns about public involvement asking if there should be a public hearing prior to taking the action.
Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway District) said that the Board of Supervisors will have the final decision each year.
Lamb’s other issue was equality among departments. He asked why no other departments were able to retain their unspent funds?
Frydl answered no the other departments do not retain their funds but the schools have by far the largest demand for capital.
[In addition, the Free Enterprise Forum notes, the schools are the only department with a separate elected body to manage their expenditures. Under Virginia law, the Board of Supervisors allocates funds to the schools division but once allocated the School Board determines spending decisions.]
Supervisor David Cox (Monroe District) reaffirmed that each year the Board of Supervisors will have the ability to decide if unspent funds should go to the capital budget or not.
Lamb’s final question was to the County Administrator John Barkley asking if this action was legal and Barkley gave a positive response since there would be no impact to the budget since the funds had already been approved.
The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the Funds Policy.
In order to see how much the unspent funds have been in the recent past, Director of Business and Facilities Kim Powell from the school system provided the following data.
Year School Budget Unspent / (Overspent) % Variance
2007 $28,788,523 $188,823 .66%
2008 $29,796,723 ($155,504) (.52%) $650K state revenue shortfall
2009 $31,307,854 $301,738 .96%
2010 $31,584,354 $314,111 .99%
2011 $29,708,744 $410,960 1.38% VRS “holiday”/decrease
2012 $30,574,549 $ 81,710 .27%
2013 $32,464,492 $305,481 .94%
TOTAL 7 YEAR $1,447,309
AVERAGE ANNUAL UNDERSPENDING $206,758
FY 2014 is still not finalized but Powell expects another favorable variance despite having abnormal expenses of up to $2,000 per day to feed either the high school or middle school students the days their school had to be evacuated for the 16 bomb threats. In addition, since the school has started hiring substitute teachers to help monitor bath room usage and verify that no bomb threat has been left after each student exited the rest room, this has cost close to $900 per day. Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh said that the schools cannot afford this expense next year and hopes that the bomb threats have stopped.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.