Friday, June 15, 2012

Washington County Educators Meet Again in Joint Session
Washington County will have another joint city county Board of Education meeting next week. Property taxes will be dealt with by Washington County voters who will decide a sales tax referendum on August second. The city and county boards of education are hoping for local rates to go up from the current 2.5 percent to 2.75 percent which is the maximum allowed by state law to fund local schools. The last sales tax hike in Washington County was approved back in May of 1994. Sales tax revenue should help to replace the loss of federal grant funds. 5-million dollars in grant money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will end on June 30th along with another 600-thousand dollar reduction in other funds. Next weeks meeting will offer another opportunity to consider non mandated positions and programs that could be cut to reduce the schools over 4-million dollar budget deficit. Health insurance increases and more fuel and utility costs are other funding matters to be discussed. Transportation, equipment and technology were among the most scrutinized expenditures. The estimated cost for regular instruction includes teacher salaries, retirement, health insurance, substitutes, text books and everyday maintenance. That adds up to about 36-million dollars or more than 52 percent of the entire budget which has increased by 1.3-million this year. (bg)

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