School budget vote delayedPublished 11:27am Wednesday, May 15, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
ISLE OF WIGHT—A scheduled absence of a board member and concerns that a tie would defeat a vote, compelled the five Isle of Wight Supervisors on Monday to postpone making a decision on the $63.5 million school budget on Thursday, May 16.
The vote is tentatively rescheduled for Thursday, May 23, which is when the board could also decide on its own budget of $96.7 million.
Meanwhile, the members will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, on the county budget as well as a proposal to raise the real estate tax rate anywhere from 6.5 cents to 8 cents. The rate is 65 cents per $100.
The board listened to department representatives make their requests for funding, particularly extra money above what’s so far budgeted.
For example, a representative for the Sheriff’s Department requested an extra $145,000 to its proposed $3.8 million budget.
“I want to fund everybody,” said Newport District Supervisor Byron Bailey. “But you’ve only got so much money.”
“I think we’ve been more than generous,” said Board Chairwoman JoAnn Hall of the Hardy District.
But on the recommendation of Budget and Finance Director Michael Terry, the board agreed to $125,000.
“A budget has to have integrity or it has none,” Hall added.
County Attorney Mark Popovitch reminded the board of a three percent salary increase, which is mandated by the state for constitutional officers, but can be administered at the supervisors’ discretion.
Commonwealth Attorney Wayne Farmer requested money, insisting that it’s not for him and that he didn’t want it, but for his two assistants. The board said it would discuss the matter further.
The Department of Emergency Services was granted an extra $165,000 to its budget for a total $1.9 million budget. Chief Rusty Chase told The Tidewater News he originally asked for $2.17 million, and would likely be back before them the same time next year for more money.
Christina Berta, executive director of budget and finance for the school system, again made a case for their need of $5 million in funding. The school’s budget is $63.5 million.
The school board had been directed by the supervisors to lower its expectations of what the county could provide.
“Be careful about flat funding,” said Laura Abel, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and administration. “All children are not equal in cost.”
Hall remarked the supervisors should have started with schools first. She asked Terry and staff to go back and figure everything done so far. If there’s a difference, the money could go to education.
The reminder of Bailey’s scheduled absence then prompted rescheduling the vote.
The supervisors meet at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 16, with a public hearing beginning at 7 p.m.