Thursday, April 2, 2009

FY 2010 Local Budgets

It’s that time again, time for local “requesting” and “taxing” authorities to present and hold public hearings on their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

Regarding the Clarke County School District, the Board of Education will adopt a tentative budget and tentative millage rate at its agenda setting session this evening (see agenda items 2 and 3 under New Business, pages 42-43 of the PDF). There is, as yet, no indication of the budget amount, which will be presented at the Board’s regular voting session next week, or the schedule for public hearings. The millage rate remains at 20 mills – no surprise there – which is the maximum imposed by the state Constitution in the absence of a local referendum authorizing the Board to exceed that limit.

In the past, the CCSD has done an absolutely abysmal job of making its spending plans available for public review. Printed copies have not been available anywhere around town (see below) or as PDFs on the District’s web site. The only way one could get a copy was to call ahead and arrange to pick it up at the District office on Mitchell Bridge Road (even the time that I did that, the budget I received was woefully incomplete). Let’s hope that the situation improves somewhat this time around.

On the other hand, though, I must acknowledge that the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County does an excellent job of making its budget available for public review by placing printed copies in various locations around town – such as City Hall and local libraries – and posting the relevant PDFs on its web site (with the caveats that deciphering the details of the budget requires considerable effort, but that is another matter, and that I frequently disagree with its spending priorities, but that too is another matter).

Be that as it may, to date the Unified Government has not made public its budget amount or anticipated millage rate for FY 2010. Neither has it released the schedule for public hearings. Nonetheless, all of that information should be forthcoming in the very near future.

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