Richmond Co. BOE counts on SPLOST III to avoid raising property tax

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Could property taxes be going up in Richmond County?

The numbers are in at the Richmond County Board of Education, and at first glance, it looks like good news for taxpayers.

Board members have finally passed a budget to avoid raising your taxes. But some board members say it could be a cover-up for what really lies ahead.

The school board passed an extra $1 million in the 2007 budget.

If the board couldn't come up with the money, your property taxes would have been on the rise.

Some members are happy about the solution, but not all of them agree. With only seven board members weighing in, the budget passed by a slim margin: just four to three.

The opposition is questioning where the school board was going to find another $1 million to pay for textbooks and another $250,000 for some desperately needed new buses.

The solution? Take out of SPLOST III money.

By the way, that comes from your sales tax dollars--taxpayer revenue that hasn't even been voted on yet.

The newly passed budget brings up another crucial issue as the board's reserve funds dwindle to an all-time low, nearing $11 million.

It costs almost twice that amount to run the school system for just one month.

That situation even has the controller, Gene Spires, sitting on the edge of his seat.

"No, I'm not happy with the reserves but what do you do? These are tough choices," he says.

Board members told News 12 that if voters don't approve SPLOST III in November, the board might have to take the other $1 million out of reserves.

The final budget of $243 million also includes the superintendent's annuity from his contract.

They agreed to put the $57,000 that would have gone to Dr. Larke if he received a satisfactory evaluation into the school's budget.

Breakdown of Extra Money
Hurricane Katrina relief funds: $378,000
Intangible taxes: $155,263
Cuts within the school system: $196,050
Total: $729,313