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BoE OKs budget

After months of number crunching, the Bryan County Board of Education approved a $63 million budget Thursday for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

It didn’t come without an additional cost to taxpayers, however, as the BoE hiked the school system’s millage rate to 15.537 mills, an increase of two mills over last year and half a mill higher than planned.

"Obviously the board would have preferred the millage rate not to have been raised," said interim Superintendent of Schools John Oliver. "But for us to be able to do the kinds of things the citizens of Bryan County expect, it really was their only option."

The fiscal year at Bryan County Schools runs from July 1 to June 30, and the system had been running on a month-to-month basis through a pair of spending resolutions.

The BoE was set to approve the budget at its July meeting, but a last minute reduction in state funding sent Bryan Schools Chief Financial Officer Melanie James back to the drawing board, trying to find a way to come up with an anticipated $1.5 million shortfall that led to three days of teacher and staff furloughs.

But James said the shortfall was about $210,000 smaller than anticipated, and that, coupled with the tax increase -- which is expected to generate some $670,000 in funds -- enabled the system to balance its general fund budget of approximately $49.5 million.

"Nobody likes a tax increase, but having a balanced budget is the fiscally responsible thing to do for our kids," said Charlie Johnson, who represents District 3.

Read more in the Bryan County News.

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