By ASHLEY AMASON
Appropriately for a budget hearing, Chief Financial Officer Jim McCall served in Superintendent Carlene Anderson’s absence while she was at the state board of education meeting during the Aug. 2 Walton County School Board (WCSB) meeting. The millage rate was set at 5.0110 mills, less than the rollback rate (5.3398 mills) which would bring in the same amount of taxes as last year. The millage rate is less than the rollback by 6.2 percent, and .059 mills less than last year. The required local effort rate of 2.690 will bring in $28.9 million.
The $95, 974,053 budget was unanimously approved, despite being $16 million less than last year’s budget. The general operating budget will suffer a decrease of $1.4 million and the capital outlay budget is $9.9 million less than last year. The district saved $1.5 million in retirement premiums as a result of employees contributing 3-percent of their salaries to retirement.
The board unanimously approved a $200 bonus for all employees not covered in the collective bargaining agreement. The total cost is estimated at $8,400.
The projected fund balance as of June 30, 2012 is $2.1 million, approximately 3.8 percent—above the state’s three percent requirement.
Board member Mark Davis said, “[This is] the first time I’ve ever voted on a budget that had a decrease in insurance premiums, in 17 years.”
Dennis Wallace said to McCall, “It was a tough budget year and you did a great job.”
McCall replied, “Thank you for your input…in [creating] a budget that will get us through the whole year.”
All personnel recommendations were approved including McCall’s retirement. Chairperson Sharon Roberts said it had been “a wonderful opportunity and wonderful pleasure” to work with him.
Student accident insurance with Gerber Life Insurance Company was unanimously approved. The insurance, particularly for athletic injuries and subsequent hospital costs, “definitely needs to continue” according to McCall.
The negotiation team was approved, including McCall, Supervisor of Curriculum Kay Dailey, Principal Appointee Pam Jones, HR Director Sonya Alford, Negotiator for the Superintendent Jerry Copeland, WCSB Attorney Ben Holley, and Recorder Toni Norman.
The next WCSB meeting is Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. at the Tivoli Complex.