WINNSBORO — The Fairfield County School Board of Trustees passed first reading of the FY 2014-2015 budget Tuesday night.
Superintendent J.R. Green recommended the board approve the first reading in the amount of $35,548,351.
The motion carried 4-1-2, with Andrea Harrison voting nay and both Paula Hartman and Annie McDaniel abstaining.
Last year’s budget was $34,358,564.
Fairfield County School District finance director Kevin Robinson noted that the increased budget is a result of an increased property tax base and not a result of a raised millage rate.
The budget is operating under the same 203.1 millage rate as last year.
The largest category for revenue comes from property tax paid by Fairfield County, which is primarily generated by non-owner occupied residences and also other properties within the county such as businesses and automobiles.
Robinson noted that local property tax is 77 percent of the district’s revenue.
Teacher’s salaries, benefits, retirement and worker’s comp accounts for 84 percent of the district’s General Fund Expenditures.
There is a 1 percent pay scale increase to all district salaries proposed in the 2014-2015 budget.
“This is a proposed step increase in part to allow us to be more competitive with other districts and to help employs keep up with the cost of living,” Robinson explained.
Robinson pointed out that currently 10 percent of district employees will be frozen for a pay increase next year and the proposed one-percent will be their only increase.
Harrison asked if the one-percent pay scale increase would only allow employees to break even after paying extra costs for retirement and health insurance.
Robinson said it wasn’t definitive if the 1 percent would cover those extra costs.
“This is to make sure that those that are frozen do not see a decrease in their paychecks,” he stated. “I don’t really want to say yes or no because it will depend on everyone’s individual situation. There is still nothing definite in the legislature and we would be speculating if the one-percent would cover those costs.”
Harrison continued to inquire if the finance department looked for other ways to cut the budget in other areas to increase the percentage.
“We have,” Robinson stated. “We have looked at opportunities for ways to save money, but we haven’t always been fortunate enough to have a property tax base increase. We are constantly looking at ways to save money within the budget.”
Trustees will hold a work session on April 22 to further discuss the proposed budget in detail.