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8% income plunge looms for Fayette schools in '11

There was a glimmer of a silver lining in the financial report given by Fayette County School System Comptroller Laura Brock at the March 15 school board meeting. But the storm clouds of falling state and local revenues have a good chance of neutralizing a $3 million silver lining coming from unexpected local revenues and more cost savings measures.

Brock said what had been projected to be a June 30 year-ending general fund balance of $4.834 million is now estimated to be an $8.150 million surplus. That increase came largely from approximately $2 million in unexpected local tax receipts, said Brock, along with the proposal to cut an additional $990,000 in various operational costs.

Put with last year’s June 30 surplus of $4.509 million, the new year-end projection sits at $12.659 million in what was a $185.5 million budget back on July 1, now adjusted to $179.3 million.

But that good news may be only temporary since additional cuts could be in the offing from the General Assembly for the current fiscal year, not to mention those anticipated for the 2011 fiscal year that begins July 1.

And it is in FY 2011 that the most austere revenue projections in recent memory are poised to occur for school boards, city councils and county commissions across Georgia.

Brock in reporting on the best case scenario based on Gov. Perdue’s recommendations said state revenues could drop to $83.5 million, down from the original $93.9 million on July 1.

To make matters worse, local property tax revenues later this year are projected to fall seven percent with auto taxes falling 10 percent. Those totaled $91.59 million on July 1, 2009 compared to the projected $86.7 million for FY 2011.

Those translate into a $15.2 million decrease in state and local revenues for the coming fiscal year, with a $185.5 million FY 2010 budget shrinking to $170.3 million for FY 2011.

And that likelihood is what board members will have to reckon with at the April 13 meeting when they take up the issue of whether additional furlough days will be imposed before the end of the current school year or whether the board absorbs the cost of the furlough days and takes its chances with the uncertain financial outlook for next year. The board is hoping that by the time of the mid-April meeting the General Assembly will have cleared up some of that uncertainty.

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Opinion

Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, I learned math many different ways, both in and out of school. When math was just numbers it was easy to understand.