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Johnson City school board dives into budget

Brandon Paykamian • May 3, 2018 at 5:09 PM

The Johnson City Board of Education met for a special session Thursday morning to discuss action on the 2018-19 school year budget.

Officials discussed plans to ask the Johnson City Commission for additional school resource officers and the possibility of a 3 percent salary raise for teachers across the board. The proposals would add another $1 million to next year’s budget.

“We feel like we’re fiscally sound, but we’re hoping to have more capital funds to do things like buy band equipment and ask the city for money for safety needs with the SROs,” Superintendent Steve Barnett said after the meeting.

The bulk of Thursday’s meeting included discussions about where the 3 percent staff raise, a reoccurring expense, would come from. All except school board member John F. Hunter supported the raise.

This issue will likely be raised at a work session Tuesday attended by city commissioners and school board members, and the school board will again discuss the budget at its next meeting Monday, Barnett said.

School board member Richard Manahan said at the meeting that funding wouldn’t be so tight if Johnson City was able to receive a fairer portion of taxes from Washington County.

Approximately $10 million in tax revenues go into the county’s annual capital project fund. While city residents pay half of the property taxes going into the fund, Manahan said city schools see zero of those funds.

“Why are Johnson City taxpayers having to pay for Washington County’s shortcomings?” Manahan asked. “That is just sad.”

Manahan, who has previously criticized the interlocal agreement between the city and county governing revenue sharing for education, said he hopes city education officials can present their case to county officials after the August Washington County Commission elections.

“That money is coming from everybody in the county, including city residents, and we educate over 47 percent of the students in Washington County. Help from that tax increase was (previously) expected, and we felt like we should have some of that money for our needs,” Barnett said of Manahan’s criticisms.

“If we received some of that money, we’d be able to take care of all of these capital needs.”

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