A lengthy discussion on the matter highlighted Thursday’s Board of Education meeting at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School.
District Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales dissected a potentially troublesome proposed component of the fiscal 2015 budget — $33 million in one-time expenditures — in response to questions raised by board members after the release of Superintendent Robert Avossa’s recommendations.
“You may not agree with a decision to call some of these — or all of these — one-time items or that we’re using [the] fund balance for these items,” Morales told the board. “It will be one of those times that we’ll have to agree to disagree; however, the board has final authority.”
Among the one-time items under scrutiny are funds — totaling $563,000 — set aside for discretionary travel and another $650,000 for custodial services.
A board member’s inquiry about the $1.4 million sum reflected for infrastructure management proved especially insightful, Morales said.
“Because of this question, we discovered we had an inaccuracy on our list,” he said. “While we can support $698,000 for contract and temporary staffing, the fact is we found $627,000 that was for equipment maintenance, not equipment purchases — so that should have been classified as recurring. As a result, we are [adjusting].”
The chief financial officer said budget makers will also be seeking to move to SPLOST at least $1 million of the $1.7 million showing under instructional technology media services for the new school media centers at the new Heards Ferry Elementary campus, among other locations.
District 6 board member Catherine Maddox voiced concern over the prospects of the system’s finances.
“I disagree with a good number of the items listed as one-time expenditures. … We budget for a good number of these things every year,” she said. “We’re talking about taking it out of our ordinary operating budget and we still need to borrow. … My vast concern beyond the $14 million for raises that we’re borrowing to pay for this year is that we are elevating spending to levels that I’m not sure we’re totally all going to agree with.”
Morales will deliver the budget book to school board members Tuesday at their annual retreat.
He said Avossa’s administration is considering recommending two separate budgets related to the general fund. One would be the traditional budget; the second would require a separate vote on the one-time expenditures referred to as a supplemental budget.
“We find ourselves in a very curious position,” Avossa said. “There is a pent-up demand for resources. … There’s nothing in this budget that I can’t support.
“There’s nothing I consider fluff.”