Columbia Co. BOE works to balance budget

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News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, May 14, 2013

EVANS, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Columbia County Board of Education has some tough budget decisions to make. The board is working hard to meet its budget for the next school year.

"Over the past few months, we've had a lot of austerity cuts from the state and our budget has been coming in smaller and smaller," said Columbia County Board of Education Chairman Regina Buccafusco. "So, the discussion tonight will be how to make up that $11-plus million."

One option, according to Buccafusco, is raising taxes.

"It'd cost the taxpayers $50 per $100,000 on their house," she explained. "So if they owned a $200,000 house, that would be $100 more a year."

It's an idea Buccafusco is bringing to the table.

"For $100 more a year, we would get to maintain the quality of school system we have without cutting more programs, without cutting more teachers and salaries."

It's an option some parents like Shannon Ryle don't support.

"I think they've already raised the taxes enough," Ryle said. "Every time they want to make a budget cut or they want to make a change, they want to make us pay more taxes."

Another option is furlough days -- something both Buccafusco and Ryle are against.

"I don't believe our employees and teachers and students should have to bear the burden that a 1 mill tax increase really could take over," Buccafusco said.

"I have an 8-year-old [and] I have a 14-year-old," Ryle explained. "With the 8-year-old, I would have to pay daycare, which can run $25 to $50 a day for drop-in services. For the 14-year-old, he would have to be left at home."

As a mother, she understands how difficult it is to stick to a tight budget. She says she just hopes her kids won't have to suffer because of the budget crunch at the Board of Education.

"It is kind of tough, but education has been around for a long time, and they've made it thus far," she said.

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