District Finance Director Missy Campbell said the the $94,893,488 budget includes a surplus of more than $700,000 if the state figures remain constant, but cautioned Trustees against spending that surplus before final funding is approved from the state.
“The current budget shows a $737,000 surplus,” Campbell said. “That figure could get better, but there are certain things we need to watch. We’re not going to spend that surplus until we see what goes down in Columbia”
Campbell also said that by state law, the district could raise taxes by two mils if they choose to do so, but the budget does not include that option being exercised.
Board Chair Alex Saitta proposed that the budget be adjusted to include the hiring of an auditor. Saitta said the funds could come from the surplus state funds, if they come through, or from three other locations in the budget.
Saitta noted that SLED is investigating allegations that two Liberty High School employees had stolen money.
“As a board, we need to step up in oversight,” Saitta said.
Trustee Jim Shelton agreed, noting that an auditor would save the district money in the long run.
“If you bring in a good accountant, it will more than pay for itself,” Shelton said.
Saitta agreed, saying that the auditor’s job would be more than simply making sure the financial records were complete.
“He would also identify waste,” Saitta said. “It’s like a bee going around pollinating flowers. An auditor can spread the savings throughout the district.”
Board members voted 6-0 to hire an auditor.
Board members speculated on possible uses for any surplus in state funding.
Several board members mentioned the possibility of restoring the reading intervention program, which was cut earlier in order to balance the budget.