July 23, 2014 - 07:54
Budget committee still looking for school money
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The county’s budget committee met two week ago in an attempt to find the additional 5¢ on the dollar needed to fund a request from the school system for an assistant principal at Benton Elementary School and two pre-school teachers and teacher’s aides. Committee members had voted last week to give the school system the added funding as well as purchase six buses. Money for the buses will come out of debt service and does not affect the budget or tax rate.

Woody told the board he would not have voted for either request, but that the school system should have been happy just to get the buses funded. He said the county could pay for the buses without raising taxes.

“Between the two, I would rather go that way than raise taxes on designated funds that will reoccur next year,” Woody said, adding “We’ll just have to take the lumps that go with it.” He said somebody needed to look after the taxpayer.

Pippenger said a motion passed to add 5¢ to the school budget.

“We sent James (Jones) out of here thinking he was gonna get it, it’s been in the paper that we’re gonna do it, we gotta do it,” he said.

Pippenger asked Property Assessor Randy Yates what next year looked like for evaluations. Yates said there had been a decrease in land value throughout the area, not just in Polk County. He said farm tracts were not declining as much as subdivisions were. Yates said there had been tons of foreclosures and short sales and they had to weed through everything to find good sales.

Buster Lewis said he’d spoken with Gary Hayes who told him there was not much chance funding the request without raising taxes. Sheena Gaddis said if raising taxes was what they were there for, they may as well go home.

Greg Brooks suggested setting a meeting with the school board’s budget committee. He said meeting with the county commission was the least they could do if they wanted the funding. Woody said Pre-K didn’t start til later and and Benton Elementary wouldn’t need an assistant principal right off the bat.

Woody made a motion, seconded by Gaddis, to rescind the motion to give the schools the extra funding. Randy Collins voted yes, Curbow, Brooks and Lewis voted no. Pippenger passed. Daren Waters and Isaac Bramblett were absent.

Curbow motioned to raise the tax rate to $2.23 from $2.18, Pippenger seconded. Brooks it was premature of they were going to meet with the school board. Pippenger rescinded his second; Curbow rescinded the motion.

A budget committee meeting to be held with the school board was set for Monday, August 6th at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Benton.

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