We are all puzzled by events from time to time and sometimes we never really understand what is going on around us. There may have been only as few as five or six people in the room at the June 10 Commissioners meeting to pass the 2019/2020 Beaufort County budget who even had a clue about what was happening with the school budget. If you were sitting at home looking at the awful video and even worse sound track on television you are probably clueless. Here is what happened.
The gang of four (Frankie Waters, Jerry Evans, Jerry Langley and Ed Booth) who run things in Beaufort County had decided not to give the schools any more money in their $15,507,835.00 budget.
Frankie Waters decided to play with the school budget. He made a motion at a budget workshop to increase the school operating or expense budget by less than $300,000 and take the money from the school's capital budget which was about one million dollars. This is game playing because, if anything, their capital budget is under funded. Frankie Waters's motion passed.
The weekend before the budget hearing was held, there were meetings in the Aurora community. It seems that someone, probably in the school system, put the word out that the school in Aurora would be closed because the Superintendent's request for an addition 2.5 million dollars had been rejected by the Commissioners. A large crowd of Aurora area residents showed up at he public hearing on the budget on June 3rd t and objected to the closing of the school. Superintendent Cheeseman made an impassioned plea for the 2.5 million dollars and indicated that people would lose their jobs and schools would be closed if he did not get the 2.5 million dollars. There were rumors before the evening was over that the School Board may sue the Commissioners to get the 2.5 million dollars.
Well now. The gang of four had created themselves a big problem. They had arbitrarily changed the school budget form last year and had not increased it. Maybe that in its self would be grounds for a suit. The gang of four had to fix that because, if there were a suit, us conservatives would certainly be pointing our fingers at them. Liberals do not like to be on the hot seat. The gang of four had a way out. Raise taxes.
Notice that Frankie Waters could not wait to make the motion to reverse his mistake. Then Jerry Langley swung into gear and made a puzzling motion. He said to raise taxes one penny (a $600,000 tax increase) and give the schools $375,000 and put the remaining$225,000 in the County treasury. This reversed the mistake, increased funding to the schools took away a lot of the basis for a law suit.
At the end of the day, the gang of four dug themselves out of their mistake by raising your taxes. This is another example of our clowns in action.
Another astounding thing had happened. How the $350,000 would be used by the schools was never discussed. The gang of four did not care how the money was used as long as they were using your money to buy themselves out of their mistake.
There is further proof these lazy commissioners never intended to cut costs, Stan Deatherage made a motion to cut costs other places in the proposed budget
to find the $350,000 for the schools. This motion was quickly voted down. The gang of four never intended to do anything other than to add costs to last year's budget. Why do we need to elect commissioners if they are not willing to examine the budget and remove things that are not needed. Continuation budgets are enacted by lazy Commissioners.
The simple truth is the Board of County Commissioners are clueless as to how the school system spends your money. All tax dollars deserve a lot more respect than they get because they are confiscated by the police power of the state. The only way we will ever know how the money is spent is to appropriate the school budget by purpose and function. Purpose and function is a line item accounting method approved by the Legislature. Our liberal board has always wanted to dump the money and run. Just raise taxes and be as lazy as possible. Give the schools a lump sum and go home. A lot of money could be saved by doing the school budget by purpose and function. The public may feel better knowing where their money is going.
We will never save money or reduce County spending by doing the "continuation budgets". With a continuation budget, we simply add so called new spending to last year's spending. Doing budgets this way, spending can never go down. The number of employees will always go up.
When taxes get high enough, maybe the public will demand change.