The Bibb County School board voted to revise its educational special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, budget. By a 6 to 1 vote, members changed the budget from around $176 million to $ 171 million. That's a five million dollar drop.
Director of Capital Programs Jason Daniel said changes to some of the projects are why it decreased.
"We're reducing the scope of work in the SPLOST, we're taking two elementary schools that were originally slotted for around 14,15 million dollars each and we're diverting some of that money to some new projects to renovate some existing buildings to improve the condition of these buildings, HVAC, roofing, that kind of thing, so we can continue to use them, instead of building new," said Daniel. "And that is based on around the student decline in population and the decrease in revenue from SPLOST."
To renovate Bernd, Porter and Riley elementary schools, it will cost $8 million. And adding a combined 25 classrooms at Carter and Heritage elementary schools will be $3.5 million.
The system still plans on building two schools one at King-Danforth and another possibly at the current Morgan site.
Also, according to the SPLOST sheet, an additional $3 million will be spent on security updates at schools.
The public was welcome to comment on the changes, but nobody spoke.
Following the public hearing, Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier discussed a portion of the proposed 2015 fiscal budget. Salaries, fringe benefits and operations will increase to around $8.8 million.
"The increase in salary and benefits is increased primarily because we will not, we're not proposing furloughs next year. So again, those dollars will have to go back into the budget. So for that reason you got an increase. And the other operating costs, some of that increase is related to a change in our expenditure structure," said Collier. "One of the changes is the technology costs is a little bit higher. As well as we're gonna purchase more text books next year. And also there will be some costs related to the opening of the new charter school."
This is the third time the board has reviewed the proposed budget which must be approved before July 1.
The board also discussed the districts projected fund balance, or savings, over the next five years. Collier says it is important to plan this ahead of time, so funds don't run out. By 2019 the system could have a $4 million fund balance reserve deficit.
"As costs continually go up, and our revenues remain stable, or decrease, that forces us to use our fund balance, fund balance reserves. So at some point, the fund balance reserves will run out. So we have to continually plan and look to the future in terms of how are we gonna rectify that situation before we get to it," said Collier.
To help increase revenue, Interim Superintendent Steve Smith says the system is looking at renting out portions of the building because they have vacant space. The school system would be consolidated to the third and fourth floors.