Board to wrestle with budget
By By John Dilmore Jr. Special to the Advance
The Escambia County School Board will meet Thursday to adopt an operating budget considerably smaller than officials, educators and parents in the district would have liked.
County Superintendent of Education Melvin 'Buck' Powell said of this year's budget that it would be "pretty slim."
Although the final budget total had not yet been calculated, officials did know what they were facing in terms of cuts. They received word Friday that some $813,000 would have to be lopped off the county schools' budget.
That has school officials reluctantly considering shutting down some programs, including band and athletic activities.
Following Thursday's budget session, which will be held at the Brewton Central Office at 4:30 p.m., school board members will go into a workshop to try and determine where the necessary cuts will be made.
"We are going to look at how we can save some money," Powell said.
The board will unveil priorities for proposed cuts at its Oct. 30 meeting.
To try and avoid severe cuts, and to reinstate programs that have already fallen victim to the budget crunch, the school board has asked for a vote on ad valorem taxes Dec. 9.
The vote will be two-pronged, asking voters to renew an existing three-mill education tax and to approve a request for an additional 10-mills.
Ad valorem taxes are collected on homes and car tags. According to figures Powell presented at the last regular school board meeting, the tax increase on a home valued at $75,000 would be $6.25 per month.
On an automobile valued at $20,000, the increase would be $2.50 per month.
Powell is hopeful of the measure's passage.
"It's about the only thing we've got other than getting out and selling doughnuts," Powell said.
The Brewton City School system has passed a similar resolution asking for a vote on a tax increase.