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Colonial Beach schools set to cut teaching positions

Despite a last ditch effort by council members Gary Seeber and Mike Ham to modify the proposed 2011-2012 town budget to add $149,000 in projected revenues, which would have provided level funding to town schools, Colonial Beach Town Council voted 4-3 against the proposed budget modification.

According to Ham, personal property tax revenues had been under estimated by $51,000 in the proposed budget. An additional $98,000 returned by the school to the town in 2010-2011 could be returned back to the school system. By modifying the proposed budget to include the additional $149,000 and modifying the school transfer, two teacher positions and seven teaching assistant positions would not be on the cutting block.

Seeber urged council to pass the modified budget saying “The school has to do contracts tomorrow. They're going to have to let people go.”

Council members Sparky Ridgely, Karen Payne, Burkett Lyburn and Mayor Fred Rummage all

voted against the budget modification, with members Seeber, Ham and Shane Buzby voting in favor of the modification. According to Lyburn, “If it's not there, we can't give it.”

Council voted 6-1, with Seeber casting the lone nay vote, and approved the budget as presented. School Superintendent Donna Power was visibly shaken as she left the meeting. The School Board will meet tomorrow night in executive session to discuss staff reductions.

Rummage then took an opportunity to blast Westmoreland County Supervisor Larry Roberson who last week urged council to level fund the schools and reminded council that, but for the school system, the town would lose approximately $1 million in tax revenues.

Rummage then read a letter from Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Risavi regarding the statutory funding methodology that commenced in 2000-2001 into the record which stated, in part, “The county calculates the pro rata share [of tax revenue] ... and provides written notification to the Town Manager ....”

During the ensuing heated discussion, Rummage stated “I am not wrong” regarding his interpretation of the April 8, 2000, legislation. Roberson noted “You collect it here, but it would go to the county if not for town schools.”

— Kathy Flanagan

 

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