Barbour BOE struggles with budget

The Barbour County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a budget for the coming school year – although members said they had to “borrow from their future” to balance that budget.

Board members voted to cover a $550,522 overage in budget expenses by transferring the money from the county’s OPEB (other post-employment benefits) line item. The county school system is required to include funding in its budget for school employee’s OPEB liability.

“We are borrowing from our future,” Dr. Joseph Super, superintendent of Barbour County Schools, said during Tuesday’s meeting. “By the end of fiscal year 2015, we will more than likely be in a deficit.”

Board President Robert Wilkins summed the budget up for those present Tuesday at the board office.

“We are pretty much where we need to be with the paperwork part of the budget, but we are not where we want to be on the income side and even on the expense side,” Wilkins said.

“The budget certainly does balance, but we could do and provide a lot more for students if we were just funded a little differently and had some more opportunities to provide the services that we know our students could take advantage of,” Wilkins said.

Annette Hughart, finance director of Barbour County Schools, presented the budget to board members, and made suggestions for the future.

“We cannot continue spending at this current rate,” Hughart said. “We must have drastic change in our county so as not to fall into a deficit.

“The budget is an estimate, a projection, based on current available data at the time,” Hughart said. “It changes on a daily basis.”

Hughart said projected revenues for the next fiscal year include real and personal property taxes, $3.4 million; interest, $5,100; child nutrition, $1 million ; state aid funding, $10.5 million; PEIA allocations, $2 million; retirement allocations, $978,000; school bus replacement, $214,739; Step 7 funding $567,753; faculty senate, $34,000; and other state and federal programs, $2.2 million.

Projected expenses for fiscal year 2014 include salaries, $11.4 million; substitutes, $606,695; Public Employees Insurance Association, $1.8 million; Step 7 expenses, $567,753; maintenance, $1.2 million; transportation, $709, 151; child nutrition, $670,770; instructional support, $384,910; staff development, $10,370; dental and optical insurance, $225,000; Social Security, $816,462; retirement, $1 million; unemployment, $15,000; workers compensation, $105, 022; faculty senate, $34,000; trips, $3,860; and other state and federal programs, $1.9 million.

Wilkins said the board needs to revisit the budget soon.

“We need to talk about the points of the budget before next year,” Wilkins said. “We need to work on the suggestions so we don’t have to come to the end and solve these problems again.”

The budget approved Tuesday was one of two proposals the board discussed in recent months. The other proposal, known as Budget B, was described by Hughart as unfeasible after the board voted on April 22 to rescind its earlier vote to not offer employees dental and vision insurance benefits.