McDuffie County Board of Education Comptroller Tom Smalley is proud of his budget. The board tentatively approved the fiscal year 2008 budget at a called work session last Thursday night.
The $34 million general fund budget is only a 5.92 percent increase over the previous year, and property tax rates will remain the same. Mr. Smalley said the general fund is the local portion of the budget.
"We do not plan a tax increase. The budget that we presented ... will hold it at 15.3 mills," Mr. Smalley said. "That will be five consecutive years holding the line, so I'm real proud of the efforts there. I think that speaks real well of the conservative nature of the budget."
The increase is due to the rising costs of the employer's portion of health insurance premiums offered through the state. While the premiums have increased over the past two years for employers, Mr. Smalley said the employee's portion of the rates has remained the same.
"It went up from 16.713 percent to 18.534 percent," he said. "What that has done is increased our cost $321,534 so that was a big chunk ... a big part of that increase. Health insurance industry-wide is just going up, up, up."
Other increases unchecked by the state are utility rates and energy costs and salary increases. Mr. Smalley said fuel, electricity and water prices are rising, but the state does not provide extra funding to cover the costs.
Mr. Smalley said he will pull the extra expenses from the general fund reserve funds.
"(Setting the budget) takes us a long time every year," he said. "We try to be very careful because it's such an integral part of our year to budget ahead of time to meet all of our needs."
BOE media spokesperson Georgia Hobbs said she was unable to comment on the budget due to a lack of response from her fellow board members before The Mirror's deadline.
After the legal posting of the tentative budget, the board is scheduled to give its final approval at the June 14 regular meeting.