Friday, June 4, 2004

Budget gets tentative O.K.


It appears next year’s school budget may have a little good news for Fayette’s taxpayers.

The Fayette County Board of education got a report Tuesday night from comptroller Jim Stephens that this year’s budget will not need a millage rate increase for maintenance and operations.

The 2005 general fund budget is estimated at $156.668 million, which is just over a four percent increase from last year’s budget, Stephens said.

“Actually, our bond millage should also be slightly down this year,” said Superintendent of Education John DeCotis.

Earlier this year, the system was looking at gloom and doom predictions of a $4 million deficit and a increased millage rate.

But Stephens said two main factors contributed to the upbeat projections. First, the state found more than $200 million to put back in the education budget.

The second factor is the rate of growth in Fayette County. “There’s a lot of building going on right now in the county, so we’ve upped our digest projections,” he said.

The county is also doing reassesments on property, which will add additional revenue to the system.

“We’re looking at a nine percent increase in the digest,’ Stephens added.

Included in this budget will be raises for teachers and 12-month personnel, including:

• A two percent state-mandated teacher pay raise in 2005.

• A three percent step increase for teachers in 2005.

• A two percent increase for 12-month employees this July.

• A three percent increase for 12 month employees in 2005.

The total for all the pay raises is just over $4 million.

Nearly 70 percent, or $108 million, of the 2005 budget goes towards instruction costs.

The budget also includes 40 new employees.

The board unanimously agreed to advertise the budget for two weeks before a final approval.

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