Deal or No Deal?
A three-week-old tentative agreement designed to resolve the stand-off on funding the schools is teetering in the balance as the Hardeman County Budget Committee altered the Memorandum of Agreement with the Hardeman County Schools.
The change was made during the Hardeman County Budget Committee meeting on June 10 at the Hardeman County EMS Building.
“We want to give the same amount to the schools, but at the same time we need to protect the county,” said Sain. “We need to look at the long term.”
The Memorandum of Agreement, first discussed on May 21, which had the schools receiving $300,000 each year for the next eight years in exchange for a six cent tax cut, was changed to the equivalent of only what revenue the six cents would bring in those years, an estimated difference of about $600,000 over the eight years.
“We don’t need to take school funding away. But we can’t pay more,” said Sain.
Bobby Henderson, a school board member who attended the meeting, said the changes to the agreement could be a deal breaker.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but I feel like if you take item #8 out (the $300,000 per year), we will not agree,” said Henderson, saying the schools have not seen an increase in funding over the current rate, in thirteen years.
“I’m glad we are overfunding them. Our goal is to not cut funding,” reiterated Sain, saying Hardeman County is ranked #8 in overfunding schools in the state. “But we have to protect us.”
The estimated difference of $600,000 is calculated by subtracting what six cents currently brings ($222,000 at 92% collections) by the eight years of the agreement against $300,000 per year. Actual totals would vary, given Hardeman County’s higher collection rate and other factors.
As the yet unapproved change stands, the tax rate the schools would receive would go from $1.46 to $1.40, but the schools would receive the equivalent dollars in the form of a donation that would go toward debt service each year.
The Hardeman County School Board was expected to meet June 13 and the county budget committee was expected to convene June 18, just prior to the second reading of the budget and the public hearing, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the county courthouse.