05/22/17 — Board to talk school funding

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Board to talk school funding

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 22, 2017 9:57 AM

School funding will be up first Tuesday morning when Wayne County commissioners begin their budget deliberations.

Dr. Michael Dunsmore, Wayne County Public Schools superintendent, will present the school board's new budget proposal when commissioners reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The school board's budget proposal includes an initial $5 million request for funding to provide core-subject textbooks to every student in Wayne County.

It would require approximately $2 million per year after that to keep the books updated as new versions come out and curriculums are adopted.

During a joint meeting with the school board earlier in the spring, commissioners asked about the cost for providing text books in every subject for every student in the school system.

Following Dunsmore's presentation, County Manager George Wood will present the county budget proposal and capital improvement plan.

Commissioners also will discuss budget requests from outside agencies such as WATCH and Literacy Connections.

That funding has come under fire in recent years. Some commissioners, most notably Commissioner Joe Daughtery, have questioned using taxpayer dollars to fund nonprofit organizations.

There have even been comments about ending such funding altogether.

Information on the budget -- other than that Wood is not recommending any changes in the tax rate of 66.35 cents per $100 of appraised value -- will not be released until then.

Commissioners scheduled the budget sessions during their Tuesday, May 16, meeting.

Rather than adjourn that meeting and call a special session, commissioners recessed until Tuesday, May 23.

That meeting is scheduled to be recessed until 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 30, to go over county department budgets.

The board has scheduled a public hearing on the budget for Tuesday, June 6.

Commissioners could hold even more workshops following the public hearing.

All of the sessions are open to the public and will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the Wayne County Courthouse annex.

Commissioners plan to adopt the budget and capital improvement plan at their June 20 session. The budget goes into effect July 1.

At the May 16 meeting, Wood said there would be no need to have representatives of the outside agencies or county department heads at the meetings.

"It is strictly for you to go over it," Wood said. "Then at that point you can decide if you want to have any of them come in and make presentations, ask questions or whatever as a follow up. But we don't typically have 20-some groups come in.

"Most of them are a continuation of what you have been doing."

Commissioner Ed Cromartie asked for a list of all of the outside agencies that asked for funding regardless of whether Wood was recommending they receive funding.

That will be included in the budget, Wood said.

Cromartie said the county gets a "buzz" all through the year from groups wanting some help.

"My answer to them is, make your formal request to the county office and see where you fall out," he said.

"That is too many words," Daughtery said. "The only answer to that is no."