Some Bibb County residents grabbed the chance to speak out about the school district's proposed budget Wednesday night.
The public hearing kicked off with highlights from the budget, including an $8 million deficit in the general fund. Cuts in state funding and local tax revenues account for about $4.7 million of that deficit.
In fiscal year 2012, the district projected they would need $3.7 million from the general fund to plug up the deficit hole. Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier says for the FY 2013 proposed budget, the goal was to not make that number any bigger by spending.
So the $4.7 million less in money coming in, plus $3.7 million in prior deficits accounts for the total deficit in the proposed budget.
5 people addressed the board about that deficit, including local activists Darren Latch and Arthur Thompson who railed about fiscal responsibility and accountability.
Thompson questioned why initiatives from the Macon Miracle strategic plan were included in a budget with an $8 million deficit.
"It's been said time and time again," Thompson said, "that if it aint in the budget we can't do it. Why are you doing it now? Have we all been lied to? I'm just asking. I'm concerned. I'm concerned about my property taxes."
Board member Gary Bechtel said he's not voting for the budget, primarily because of how money is spent on personnel.
"The problem is we've added a lot of people in high paying positions that are not involved in direct instruction," he said. "Our direct instruction number is going down, our general administration number is going up, that's the wrong direction."
Both sides agreed they needed to employ measures to curb the drain on the general fund. Collier projected by 2017, the fund would be emptied.
The board is scheduled to vote on the budget July 5.