By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
The Fluvanna County School Board presented its budget to the Board of Supervisors on February 24.
The budget request for FY17 was $1.724 million over the local contribution given last year. That would need over six cents on the tax rate. The county administrator proposed budget had no tax increase.
The School Board budget’s increase was justified with an additional $520,000 for staff compensation, $384,000 for health care costs, $435,000 for additional staff, $335,000 for technology and $50,000 for the operational budget.
Last year, the School Board had a surplus of $600,000. Part of that was the school system spending less than budgeted and another part was the county received more money than anticipated.
The School Board cannot spend that additional money received, unless approved by the Board of Supervisors. The reason is the School Board’s budget is approved by the Board of Supervisors. That budget sets the School Board’s spending authority.
If revenue exceeds the spending authority, the Board of Supervisors have to approve increasing the spending authority. Legally, the School Board cannot exceed its spending authority.
At the Nov. 18, 2015 meeting, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to give the schools back $61,000 and keep the remaining $550,000 in the general fund. The rationale then was that money could be used in FY17 for capital improvement items.
“We appropriated money to them. It is their money,” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union District). She advocated the extra money should be reallocated for school funding. Now that it is in the general fund, it can be spent for anything like water projects.
Don Weaver (Cunningham District) disagreed. “It didn’t hurt them the least bit”
Weaver countered part of the issue was the county received more money than anticipated and had less expenses. That money can then be reappropriated without thinking it is owed to the school system.
The school system had lower expenses because of several factors going just right. Ed Breslauer, the school finance director, explained how good budgeting has safe guards in place so when one item runs over budget, there should be another that runs under. The schools had several items run under, which is highly unlikely. The previous two years the School Board budget came in less than 1 percent under budget.
One example is the schools’ budget was built with anticipation of fuel costs at $4.00 a gallon. Besides buses, the school uses heating oil. With oil significantly less than $4.00 a gallon, that is a substantial savings.
The Board of Supervisors will next meet on March 2 at 4 p.m. for a regular meeting. There is a scheduled work session afterwards.
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