Board votes against raising tax

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A Thursday vote by the Richmond County school board spared taxpayers, but it might cost some district employees their jobs.

Rolling the dice, the board tentatively decided not to raise taxes, creating a $1 million budget shortfall and gambling that the hole won't get bigger.

The vote narrowly passed 5-4 during a special meeting Thursday, minutes after a vote failed 4-5 to balance the budget through a small tax increase.

The 5-4 vote means Superintendent Dana Bedden will be making at least another $1 million in cuts, which he said would likely be a "combination of things to spread the pain." That includes layoffs, furloughs and charging fees for services. Last month, the board cut $24.5 million.

The latest shortfall, though, is a conservative estimate based on the state not cutting additional funding as revenues continue double-digit declines.

"We're going to get some cuts," board member Jack Padgett said. "No one knows how much they're going to be."

State Rep. Quincy Murphy, the head of the Augusta legislative delegation, agrees those cuts could be coming.

"It's a grave situation, very grave," Mr. Murphy told The Augusta Chronicle . "If (state) revenues continue to go in the direction they are going, there will be more cuts (of school appropriations)."

Dr. Bedden told board members the financial squeeze is the result of several factors, including both the school system's dependence on the state and federal government for most of its funding and generous property tax exemptions granted to some segments of taxpayers.

"It may have been a good idea at the time," he said. "What we've done is a tax shift."

In less than two years, Dr. Bedden said he has cut more than $50 million.

A meeting has been called for 3 p.m. July 31 to give final approval. The board isn't required to hold public hearings on the millage because it isn't trying to raise taxes.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

HOW THEY VOTED

Five Richmond County school board members voted "yes" to maintain the tax rate during a special meeting Thursday.

Jimmy Atkins -- Absent

Marion Barnes -- No

Venus Cain -- No

Eloise Curtis -- No

Frank Dolan -- Yes

Alex Howard -- Yes

Helen Minchew -- Yes

Jack Padgett -- No

Barbara Pulliam -- Yes

Joe Scott -- Yes

Comments (16) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 07/17/09 - 12:52 am
0
0
Reduce by 25% the fees paid

Reduce by 25% the fees paid to the effete, porcine RCBOE attorney. Such a reduction in the monies paid to Pete would make a significant dent in the latest RCBOE budget hole which Dr. Bedden has been called upon to fill.

concernednative
28
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concernednative 07/17/09 - 04:08 am
0
0
It is the way our society is

It is the way our society is going every wants services and can't and don't want to pay for them.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 07/17/09 - 04:43 am
0
0
How was Bedden able to cut

How was Bedden able to cut $50 million from the most inefficient school district in the nation and have student production rise as much as it has? Is it possible that throwing money at the schools (especially when promoting crazy socialist agendas) isn't the answer to a better education?

ConsiderThis
0
Points
ConsiderThis 07/17/09 - 06:41 am
0
0
At what point has enough been

At what point has enough been reduced, we have now raised class sizes and will be cut again by the state.

LadyCisback
4
Points
LadyCisback 07/17/09 - 07:24 am
0
0
Obviously they don't care

Obviously they don't care about the education and the children!!

alsway
0
Points
alsway 07/17/09 - 07:41 am
0
0
I hope those of you

I hope those of you complaining are actual school tax payers. Those of us who are just want the board and system to maximize what they are already receiving before looking to increasing our taxes. Once it goes up, it never comes down!

treerock
0
Points
treerock 07/17/09 - 07:47 am
0
0
i am a property owner with no

i am a property owner with no children. just like with health care, i subsidize others. fair tax! fair tax!

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 07/17/09 - 08:13 am
0
0
treerock, I am in the same

treerock, I am in the same situation. My property taxes last year were 6300.00 with 2800.00 of it school tax. I know children have to eat but there were no free this and that when I went thru school. My mother had breakfast for us when we were younger and I fixed it when I was older. Cigs and beer can be given up by the parents and Iam sure enough money could be found for cereal each day. That and toast is what I had without help from the taxpayer. I hate this socialist attitude from so many.

Whatthetruth
0
Points
Whatthetruth 07/17/09 - 08:55 am
0
0
Budget in the hole!!!

Budget in the hole!!! Increase taxes! What a crock!.. Someone please explain, why RCSS is hosting a huge back the school kick off for the district with a speaker and renting of the James Brown arena at a enormous charge to the district, when struggling teachers and others are being furloughed unfairly and have not even received contracts for this year. I am sure they will be in a most festive mood during this motivational speech, not knowing what they will be paid this year. and that their furlough monies are going to help pay for this speaker. Let's see, there is money for those nice air conditioned lawn mowers, but there must be a lost of personnel to pay for them. What about the continued abundance of outsourcing contracts! Furloughs!! now let's put a few more people on the hot seat, make them worry about their jobs, when there a new jobs being created, with huge salaries attached and approved by the board. A good corporation puts its stock in its people, not the goodies that makes the pitch for more public relation smoke screens.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 07/17/09 - 10:01 am
0
0
They needed Pete Fletcher

They needed Pete Fletcher while Charles Larke was in charge because Larke kept getting into trouble with female BOE employees. Fletcher was needed to arrange the settlements for the hush money. Since Bedden appears to be more moral, Fletcher could be let go in favor of a cheaper attorney.

ConsiderThis
0
Points
ConsiderThis 07/17/09 - 10:19 am
0
0
When will people take time to

When will people take time to get the facts. The kick-off rally does not come from the tax dollars, it comes from donations.

Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 07/17/09 - 10:21 am
0
0
Little Lamb, finding a

Little Lamb, finding a cheaper and better one wouldn't be difficult.

Honest Broker
0
Points
Honest Broker 07/17/09 - 12:38 pm
0
0
It is time for a BOE in house

It is time for a BOE in house law department. There are lots of attorneys young and old that are looking for work and will work cheap.

lowellbrown
4
Points
lowellbrown 07/17/09 - 03:07 pm
0
0
Who are those "segments of

Who are those "segments of taxpayers" who got the "generous property tax exemptions"?

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 07/17/09 - 06:01 pm
0
0
what about the $50,000 plus

what about the $50,000 plus tractor they just bought to mow the football fields? sounds like money well spent.... ha ha ha !!!

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 07/17/09 - 07:50 pm
0
0
We know which five won't be
Unpublished

We know which five won't be getting voted back on the board

enana031
0
Points
enana031 07/17/09 - 08:31 pm
0
0
As far as feeling any pity

As far as feeling any pity for the teachers, I don't. All state employees EXCEPT teachers have been furloughed, have not received raises and had the mid year raise banished years ago. It's way past due that they share in the shortages the rest of state employees have felt for years.

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