.

School Board Sets 2012 Budget

An $11.4 million shortfall still exists and citizens wonder if they will be hit with a tax increase in addition to the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for education they approved earlier this year.

A week after a local website, haltthetax.org, accused Forsyth County school officials of breaking a promise not to raise taxes if voters approved a March 15 special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) education referendum, school officials were very hard to find.

Emails to school board members Kristin Morrissey and Ann Crow went unanswered, although School Board Public Information Officer Jennifer Caracciolo did call to say that school board members would not comment. Caracciolo indicated that Chairman Tom Cleveland would talk but, two days later, he still had not returned a phone call or responded to an email.

The haltthetax.org website states that, "We were promised that if we renewed SPLOST, the Board of Education would not increase our millage rate-which in turn increases our property taxes."

On Feb. 26, School Superintendent Buster Evans told CummingHome.com: "Our district is required to make the payments on the 2005 and 2007 bonds. The two options we have to pay these bonds are SPLOST, which is funded by everyone that shops in Forsyth, regardless of where they reside, or property taxes."

A PowerPoint presentation produced by the school system helps to explain why citizens feel they were misled. It states: "Making the Bond Payments Two options: SPLOST or property tax."

There may be a perfectly good explanation for the miscommunication, but school officials have yet to provide it.

Meanwhile, the school board has approved the $263 million FY 2012 budget, although published reports indicate there is an $11.4 million budget shortfall. The system can pull approximately $6.5 million from a federal education grant. The rest could come from the school system's reserves, but officials seem reluctant to take that route.

The question is will school officials raise the remaining $4.9 million by raising taxes?

Taxpayers don't know and school officials won't say.

The board is expected to hold a called meeting later in the month to announce its decision.

Steve Phillps June 17, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Increasing Taxes should be the last resort. If the school system has money in reserve that was collected by taxes in the first place why should it not be used. The school system has only ONE mission. Teach our children. They are not suppose to be in the business of buying property, investing for the future or spending money just so they won't lose it. It is time to get back to the basic goal of an education. I am not against schools having a million dollor sports complex, but it should be paid for by private donations and support for the sports. The school system made cuts in the Arts, Band, and many other programs but they still can build multi- million dollor schools that like county clubs. BACK TO THE BASIC- before its to late.
Bill June 19, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Thank you for reading CummingPatch.com. I agree increased taxes should be a last resort. I also believe elected officials have a responsibility to the citizens who elect them to answer legitimate questions posed by the public. For school board members to be non-responsive, as these were, is unacceptable. Taxpayers deserve and should demand more openness.
Hal Schneider June 19, 2011 at 01:36 PM
Why isn't the school board required by law to balance their budget? They should not be permitted to approve a budget which does not have enough revenues to cover their expenses!
SOGTP June 20, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Raising taxes is never the answer. Cutting spending is the only economically correct answer. We've spent more on schools than any other society in the history of mankind. Are they getting better? No.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »