Archived Story

IW school system gets $55M

Published 12:51pm Saturday, May 25, 2013

BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITE
Playback58@gmail.com

ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY—The Isle of Wight School System received a $55 million budget for next fiscal year on Thursday. This and the county’s $24.2 million support came unanimously from the Board of Supervisors. The $55 million is included in the county’s $96.3 million budget for 2013-14.

Budget and Finance Director Michael Terry first gave a recap. He acknowledged, “how sensitive times are,” and that county staff’s proposals are “not arbitrary or capricious.”

Five cents of the proposed tax rate increase would go to making the county stable because of issues “not addressed in the previous year’s budget.”

Terry said his department found $1.8 million extra in what he called “real revenues.”

How to fund schools, EMS, the sheriff and fire departments had to be considered.

Initially, all county departments were required in January to reduce their respective budgets by five percent. During work sessions over the past month, the aforementioned groups got additional money based on needs.

Terry offered two budgets for schools. One would include the 5 cents “to restore what we didn’t do last year, plus 4 cents for what we’ve talked about.”

The other budget would take away around $400,000 from schools and enable the real estate tax rate to go from 65 cents per $100 to 73 cents per $100.

Either way, the budgets for the schools are categorical, and would give the supervisors more say so as to how the schools system spends its money.

“I think we could live with the 8-cents increase,” said Windsor Supervisor Delores “Dee Dee” Darden. “We know the 5 cents will make us whole. I was stupid and didn’t vote for it last year. We should have.”

“We didn’t cut the schools five percent,” Darden continued. “We can’t fix everything, not overnight. The 8 cents is a starting point, and with the categorical funding… we can build and work together again.”

Newport Supervisor Byron “Buzz” Bailey said he thought the 8 cents was “a reasonable place to start.” Smithfield Supervisor Al Casteen also supported that amount, particularly because of the categorical funding plan.

“We won’t be subjected to what we’ve endured in the future,” he said.

Carrsville Supervisor Rex Alphin said he was leaning toward the 9 cents, but that 8 cents was “the next best scenario.”

Darden quickly reminded everyone that the state and federal mandated $72 storm water fee, is also part of the budget.

“Trying to do the maximum with the minimum is what we’re trying to do,” Darden said. “I’m sure our phones will be ringing off the hook tomorrow when we do 8 cents, but it’s the right thing to do because we’ve addressed schools, we’ve addressed fire and rescue and EMS, and that’s where our increases have gone to.”

“As usual, I’m with you, Rex,” said Board Chairwoman JoAnn Hall of the Hardy District. But she also agreed that the 8 cents is “a good place to start. It’s the beginning of a new era, I hope, and comradeship with schools.”

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