HIghlights of Meeting on September 21, 2015

Our scheduled speaker, Hart County School CFO, Mr. David Seagraves, had a conflicting matter and could not attend.  Instead Ritch Vandeventer, Mike Buckel and Dottie Williams stepped in researching data and prepared a program on school budgets and millage rates.

Ritch began by reminding everyone of the ESPLOST campaign and said school activity has become brisk with the start of construction on the high school campus build program; and hiring of a new school superintendent, and a CEO for the new college career academy.

Using a power point presentation, he advised the following key points:

a. School finances indicate there will be a tax increase of $421,340.00 or a 3% increase based on the tax base.

b. School figures indicate revenue receipts of recent past years were higher than expected and expenditures were less than budgeted.  This overage went into a reserve fund. This reserve appears to be $12-$15 million.  To date, the purpose of the reserve fund has not been revealed.

c. Transparency of school finances remains vague, conflicting, and often is incomplete.

HCPOA recommendations are:

1. Roll back the millage rate to 11.0 mills (a 2% reduction.)  11.0 mills will generate a healthy $10.2 this year.  This will draw the reserve fund down only $2.6 million.

2. As there will be three open school board positions in next year’s election, the need is for capable candidates with money management skills for these positions.

3. A lack of communication with taxpayers continues and hopefully will be addressed by the new school superintendent.

As Ritch concluded his address, Dottie, Ritch and Garry answered numerous questions from those attending.

Bill Fogerty contrasted financial reporting methods of the county Board of Commissioners to those of the BOE.  He noted the BOE rarely discusses or questions budget items whereas the BOC thoroughly investigates budget matters.  Mike Buckel commented about the brevity of the BOE meeting of this same evening and lack of discussion of budget matters.

Garry thanked Ritch, Mike and Dottie for their time and extensive efforts to uncover and identify the most accurate monetary figures for their presentation.