Hamilton County School Board Passes Amended Budget

Hamilton County school board members passed an amended budget Monday.

And it doesn’t include a tax increase.

The Hamilton County Board of Education sought a 34 million dollar budget increase for next year’s budget.

Superintendent Rick Smith pushed for a 40 cent property tax increase to raise this money.

But last week, Hamilton County mayor Jim Coppinger rejected it.

"He [Coppinger] came to several of my community meetings," said superintendent Rick Smith. "He heard what was said. He saw reaction from the public. Yes, there are people who are not and never will be pleased about raising taxes but they also understand the need."

Smith made an exhaustive pitch of his proposal this spring.

"I toured the entire county," Smith said. "I met with every faculty in our school system face to face. I felt like that was important. Heard from them, heard from me."

Well, after the mayor’s rejection, the board met Monday to discuss an amended budget.

The additional revenue request dropped from 34 million to 8.7 million. It passed the board 6 to 2.

Most notably, was a drop in the salary increase proposal from a 5% raise to a 2% raise.

"All two percent does is help with inflation," said Smith.

Cuts came in the form of this salary increase change as well as health insurance adjustments.

One board member who voted against the revision has his own idea to help the school system… without raising taxes.

"A program where we can have volunteers all across this county," said board member Dr. Greg Martin. "People can’t always give their money but they can their time. We need to have vehicles that give them an opportunity to volunteer in schools in a greater way beyond the PTA, who do a wonderful job in our school system."

After Monday’s meetings, the superintendent is confident the county commission will approve this new budget.

"This gets us to a place now where we can start school in August," said Smith. "Not damage our classrooms. Keep everything as we have it now. People will wake up tomorrow and know they have the jobs they have now that we’re not cutting personnel and we are able to provide them with a little more salary so I’m pleased about that."

The budget was presented to the county commission Monday night.

News 12 will keep you updated.

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