published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Bradley County Board of Education OKs 2013 budget

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

• A five-year funding plan for athletic field lights at Bradley Central High and Lake Forest Middle

• About 80 percent of the budget is for salaries and benefits.

• Five percent is for contracted services such as bus drivers.

• Five percent is for utilities.

• Three percent is for books and materials.

• Four percent is for capital outlay.

• Three percent is for other items such as risk management.

Source: Bradley County Board of Education

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Board of Education on Tuesday approved a $68.7 million general purpose school budget.

Budget director Rick Smith said better-than-expected sales tax revenue, energy savings from a warm winter and spending restraint by the board in the past several recession years means this year's budget can address some school district needs.

The proposed 2012-13 budget goes now to the Bradley County Commission's Finance Committee. The full commission is set to vote July 2 on a total general fund county budget.

"I think we have a responsible spending plan," Smith said, "after four or five years of probably the worst recession in my lifetime."

The current school system budget included a 2 percent salary increase. The previous year there was a zero raise, and this year the budget has a 3 percent increase. The Cleveland City School System's proposed budget for 2013 also includes a 3 percent raise.

"That was a priority for our budget," schools Director Johnny McDaniel said. "This budget represents our commitment to a 3 percent increase across the board."

The amount includes the salary increase in the state budget, too.

"Through that whole time, we lost no employees due to layoffs," board member Troy Weathers said of previous lean salary years. "If we had given a raise that zero year, it would have meant we would have to lay some employees off."

While property tax revenue has stayed level, sales tax revenue for local government zoomed ahead of expectations this budget year. That was mostly due to the April 27, 2011 tornadoes, Smith said. While many homes were destroyed and temporarily taken off the property tax rolls, that was more than made up for in sales of building supplies and home goods, he said.

Capital projects, to be discussed next Tuesday by the board, will be budgeted at $3.2 million or twice the current budget. There are many capital needs, from roofing to paving, McDaniel said, so the challenge is to prioritize the list.

The proposed general fund budget does not include specific federally funded projects or the cafeteria budget.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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