County Mayor Tells Schools–No Tax Increase in This Budget!
Some school board members say that’s what they expected, and they’re now looking for ways to fill the gaps left by the county mayor’s decision.
There’s still a spirited discussion over whether the extra funding is actually needed.
RICK SMITH, SUPERINTENDENT, HCDE "I think the most important work done in Hamilton county, by far, is educating children."
Superintendent Rick Smith spent weeks holding 33 community meetings…and pitching his idea for a county tax increase to add 32-million dollars to this years school budget.
Last week, he brought his plan before a skeptical county commission, who were looking to the school board for more efficiency.
JOE GRAHAM, COMMISSIONER "I just think they were the ones that were elected and charged with the education of our children."
But the plea for more funding was all for naught as County Mayor Jim Coppinger sent Smith a letter informing him that there will not be a tax increase in the budget.
MAYOR JIM COPPINGER, HAMILTON COUNTY "There’s not a bigger supporter of what Rick Smith’s trying to accomplish than myself, its just not something we believe is a last resort as far as a tax increase."
That decision leaves the school board to decide how to pay for things like foreign language teachers and even extra-curricular activities whose fees parents may now have to pay.
DONNA HORN, DISTRICT 7, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER "… all the parents do not pay and that’s an issue too that is a problem for those principals because they are operating off that money."
MAYOR COPPINGER "We will continue to work with the superintendent..again looking at revenue sources such as the current amounts in sales tax and property tax and the governor has stepped up and offered additional funding…addition money to the schools this year."
DONNA HORN, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER, DISTRICT 7 "Well, we’re going to have to go on to plan B, and that is to sit down and reassess the money we’re going to get."
Mayor Coppinger has instructed the Department of Education to present a budget to the commission for approximately 346-million dollars–the same as last year.