The one school board member to change her vote on approving the budget did so because she hadn’t finished reviewing it in time for the vote.
The board tentatively approved the $240 million 2017 fiscal year budget at its regular meeting on June 14 with a unanimous vote of 7 to 0.
At a called meeting on Tuesday, the board officially approved the budget in a 5 to 1 vote, with board member Linda Menk voting against approval. Board member Amy Dees was not present.
“The June 14 meeting was in reference to a ‘tentative’ budget approval vote meaning that the tentative budget was ready to review,” said Menk in an email sent after the called meeting.
During that meeting Menk had asked finance director Keith Chapman for a more detailed breakdown of the budget.
“The budget is made up of thousands of lines of detail,” he said. “There are summaries of this detail on the financial services web page under the FY2017 Budget Information. This information was requested by a board member so we posted it. We compile this information annually and distribute it as necessary.”
This level of detail is normally available when the budget is ready for tentative adoption, he added.
At the June 14 meeting, Menk also asked if some of the public hearings for the budget could be held on a Saturday so people who work out of town could attend them.
Superintendent Dr. Steve Barker responded at that meeting that those hearings are conducted to set the millage rate, not the budget. He said he would research whether state law would allow one of them to be held on a Saturday.
“The ‘adopt’ vote last night, June 28, would indicate that as an elected board member I have thoroughly reviewed the line-item budget items and agree prior to setting public comment meetings in order for the general public to comment,” said Menk after the called meeting on June 28. “I’m still in the process of reviewing the tentative budget line items, so therefore I don’t believe it (is) appropriate for me to vote to ‘adopt’ the budget prior to the completion of my personal review and discussion with staff in order to make sure I’m in agreement.”
Local school boards have not been required by the state to hold public hearings before adopting a budget. Georgia House Bill 65 comes into effect today, which now requires those school boards to hold at least two public meetings, not occurring in the same week, before adopting the budget.
Per state law, Coweta County School System’s budget for a new fiscal year must be adopted by June 30.
“If the budget is not approved by June 30, before any expenditures can be made in the new fiscal year, the board must approve a spending resolution,” said Chapman. “The operations portion of the spending resolution is limited to one-twelfth of the prior year’s amended budget.”