SPLOST revenue down for Bartow schools
by Mark Andrews
Apr 23, 2014 | 1498 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County School System Finance Director Megan Brown reported on Monday that while Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue is down, a recent audit of the system’s finances shows the district is in good shape.

“We continue to see a decrease in the SPLOST receipts from the previous years’ collection. [The] March 2014 receipt came in at $1,136,000, which was a decrease of $258,000 from March 2013,” Brown said during the Bartow County Board of Education’s regular work session. “Our 2013 average collection was $1,124,000 with an approximate collection from the title ad valorem tax of $85,000. The total of these two collections are still averaging about 11 percent less than they were at this time last year.

“The most significant difference that we see from these reports issued by the Georgia Department of Revenue are the decreases in automobiles and utilities. We are closely monitoring these collections in hope that the new developments coming into our county will help increase these collections as they are battled for our debt services payments that we have coming up.”

She said the system’s 2013 audit work has been completed by Williamson & Co. CPAs and there were no findings.

“I want to commend the employees of our school system for all the hard work that they’ve put in to follow the financial operation rules and guidelines to make [the successful audit] happen,” Brown said. “We’re very proud of that; it’s a lot of hard work and we’re very proud of the report we’ve received.”

Brown said the finance department currently is working toward developing a budget for the 2015 fiscal year. Board member Fred Kittle asked if the board would need to take a retreat this year to discuss the budget once it is presented by the finance department as the state and federal funding for 2015 remains unknown.

“[The finance department] is going to a conference and a meeting at the beginning of May, so we’re hoping to find out more information on what the legislature has planned and get some final numbers,” Brown said.

Superintendent John Harper added to Brown’s response by stating, “We keep trying to inquire as to the money that was put back into the state budget this year for schools. That number was $347 million [statewide] and is that number a one-shot opportunity or is that something we can expect year-in and year-out.

“We’ve done some surveying and we think we have a pretty good idea on how we’re going to utilize [the funding]. We’ve been given direction to reduce furloughs, but if it’s a one-shot opportunity, we have to be very wise about how we spend that $2.5 million [for Bartow County] because if we say we want to do X with that and that [spending decision] burns us for the next few years ... and we don’t see any additional funds, then that really puts a huge burden on this board and the school system ...”

Harper said the system continues to calculate health care costs into its budget and that the loss of SPLOST revenue could negatively affect potential projects in the next cycle.

“I’m quite concerned that when we come together with [the school board] that we have good, hard, information where we can say ‘this is how it’s going to be,’ because we certainly want [the board] to have that good, direct, information for us to be able to share with you and have that for you and we’re hoping to have good information ...,” Harper said, adding he hopes to have a budget meeting in May.