The DeKalb County Board of Education tabled a vote on its proposed budget June 11 after school officials revealed it needed to make an additional $12 million in cuts because of dropping property tax values.
Originally, officials predicted a 6 percent drop in the county’s property tax digest but that number has grown to 9 percent, leaving the total deficit at $85 million.
“Last week I spoke to the county with regard to the tax digest and unfortunately the numbers are changing, and they’re not changing for the better,” said Michael Perrone, chief financial officer for the DeKalb County School District.
Over the past two months, school officials and board members developed a proposed budget with $73 million in cuts. Now board chairman Eugene Walker and other members said they would have to go back to the drawing board.
“Based on the information we just received I don’t see how we can move forward tonight,” board member Jesse Cunningham said.
Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson advised board members that the longer they wait to approve a budget, the less he district will save in reserves. The proposed budget also includes staff reductions—teachers and central office personnel—which could be affected the longer the board waits to vote.
“I would like to say that many of these action steps require advance notice, so we would ask the board to consider the options that they’ve chosen thus far so that staff can get working on it,” Atkinson said.
Board member Don McChesney echoed Cunningham and said he too wanted to table the vote because the board didn’t have enough facts to make an informed decision.
“We’re spinning out of control here,” McChesney said. “These are serious items and there are some things that you can’t take as one piece set apart from all the others.”
Board members voted unanimously to table adopting the budget for a week and have a special called meeting June 20 at 1 p.m.