04/19/07 — Schools: Budget will not be late

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Schools: Budget will not be late

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 19, 2007 1:45 PM

County school officials voiced their anger and displeasure today after Wayne County Commissioner Jack Best asked earlier this week why the county Board of Education had not turned in a budget proposal yet.

"By law we have to have a budget in place by July 1. It's not fair for the school board to bring their budget to us at the last minute and want us to adjust to it," he said at Tuesday's Wayne County Commission meeting. "Last year they came to us in the ninth hour with their budget and they expected us to automatically adopt it. Well, you can't continue to do this."

However, school Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor countered that the schools were not late with their budget, but that in fact, they would have it to County Manager Lee Smith ahead of time.

"It is disappointing that Commissioner Best is not aware of the General Statutes set by state law with regard to the May 15 date that board of education's have until to submit budgetary requests to county commissions," he said in a written statement. "Furthermore, to indicate that our budget is late or not turned in a timely manner is false, inaccurate, misleading.

"The Wayne County Board of Education always starts its budgetary process in February, and has never turned in a budget in late or past the deadline set by the state.

"Such inaccurate statements made serve no positive purpose and do not lend themselves to an improved working relationship between the two boards. In spite of this, we will continue to work with the county commission to provide information they need to approve a budget that best meets the needs of our 19,400 students."

But, Taylor added, the school board is not going to rush through the end of its process now.

"The Wayne County Board of Education has a scheduled work session on Wednesday, April 25, to finalize budgetary details, and will formally approve the school system's budget at the regularly scheduled board meeting on May 7," he said.

And, even though Smith said he would have liked to have had the school system's budget already -- "I know their budget's complicated, but so's ours. Until I get something all I really have to plug in is what they had before and I know that's not right." -- he knew it would be early May before he'd have it in hand.

In the meantime, he and his budget team are still reviewing the other 100 funding requests they've received from county departments and outside agencies.

His budget recommendation is due to the county commissioners by June 1.

"The next 60 days are going to be busy," Smith said.