Mon09152014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

King George meeting smoothes budget fight

The King George Board of Supervisors and the School Board had a productive meeting last week to discuss budget issues brewing for the last several weeks.

The school board explained why it changed its budget, which had been approved by the supervisors. The supervisors explained why they questioned the school board’s actions, along with urging open communications.

Members of both boards seemed pleased with the result, which will amend county budget numbers to match the school board’s action, along with the remaining appropriations for 2014-15 year, set to be approved next Sept. 2.

All five members of both boards attended the Aug. 21 joint session lasting about 30 minutes. School Board Chairman Mike Rose and Superintendent Rob Benson did most of the explaining about their budget action. Benson said the state’s eleventh-hour funding cut was because the state changed its calculation for payments for a K-3 primary class size reduction program. That change resulted in $316,509 less for King George.

Supervisors had been told in June by Robyn Shugart, county finance director, about the state cut, but the numbers in the proposed budget didn’t match the decreased amount.

Benson said he presented various options to make up for the state cut, with the board unanimously choosing to keep 2 percent raise for all employees. That was accomplished by making several personnel moves  and also using a higher estimated enrollment figure for the upcoming school year which ‘created’ additional state revenue:

“We felt very strongly we wanted to have that two percent raise in there,” Rose said since the raise had been  announced to employees.

“I just want to make sure you understand where we’re coming from by asking the questions,” supervisor Chairman Joe Grzeika said. “The two percent caused some concern for us because we look at King George County as a unified team and we told you we were doing one percent (at mid-year).

“When there’s a difference, it creates issues for everybody, asking why are some who are funded by taxpayer dollars are getting more than others. That’s the crux of it. It’s not that we don’t think anybody deserves any more, or there’s some ulterior motive to cap people. It’s what we could do within the county resources to do that.”

Rose said the county had the lowest starting salary for teachers in the region, including Colonial Beach, Caroline, Spotsylvania and Stafford.  He said retaining teachers is a problem with higher salaries in the neighboring localities.

Supervisors said that was news to them.

“I can understand looking at this data why you wanted to do the two percent,” Dale Sisson said. “It makes sense to me.”

“Teachers are important,” Grzeika said. “And when you have the data that is much different than the data we saw two years ago, I think this is very helpful.”

Phyllis Cook

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