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Ordinance would amend budget to allocate School Board funds

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By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously passed an ordinance on first reading that would amend the budget to allocate funds to the School Board.
Board members took the action during their Jan. 13 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Hank Hawkins and seconded by Alderman Bethany Huffman.
The ordinance states that the School Board has submitted a proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year that exceeds the amount the city board appropriated for the municipal school system. It notes that it is necessary to amend the city’s operating budget to fund the School Board’s request.
In the current fiscal year, the city board appropriated $241,285 for the school system. But the School Board has submitted a proposed budget of $375,000 to cover the period from December 2013 through the end of March.
On a motion offered by Huffman and seconded by Alderman Frankie Dakin, the city board voted unanimously to postpone approval of the School Board’s budget request until the amending ordinance is passed on final reading.
During discussion shortly before the votes, School Board Chairman Greg Ritter said the city asked it to prepare an “interim” budget until the board members were sworn in and had employed a school superintendent.
Noting that Dr. David Roper was scheduled to begin in that position early this week, Ritter said the School Board would like to receive his input on the “full year’s budget.” So, the next time he comes before the city board, he expects to present a proposed budget for the remainder of this fiscal year and one for next year.
Ritter said that, when the School Board presented a full-year budget for $673,325, it was asked “three separate times” to prepare a two-month interim budget.
“We took the two-month approach and extended it four months,” he said, “so we wouldn’t have to come back more than one time.”
City Attorney Charles Perkins said that, to comply with Millington’s accounting procedures and the law, an ordinance to amend the city’s budget must be passed on three readings. While noting that the first reading could be done that evening, he said the second could be scheduled later this month and the final one at the city board’s Feb. 10 meeting.
Between now and then, Perkins said, if the School Board can “finalize” its budget through the end of the current fiscal year, the ordinance can easily be amended to the proper amount.
“So, you wouldn’t have to come back until you get into the next year’s budget,” he told Ritter. “You could actually get your final numbers in through June 30 and have some money available to spend between now and then.”
Ritter noted that the School Board is trying to “balance” two things: (1) complying with the city’s request and (2) preparing an annual budget to submit to the state.
Interim City Manager Mike Chesney said he was attempting to schedule a meeting this week with the “teams” for the city and the School Board to “better coordinate” at City Hall. And he expressed hope that Roper will be able to answer “some of these questions.”
While noting that the city is “not in any way” trying to “hinder” the School Board, Perkins acknowledged that it is “plowing new ground.”
“This hasn’t been done in Tennessee in your lifetime or mine,” he told Ritter, “and my lifetime’s a lot longer than yours. We want you to be successful, so we want to help you every way we can.”
Ritter said he believes everyone involved is attempting to do the right thing.
“We’re just trying to figure out what the right thing is to do,” he noted.
“We’re all trying to do that,” Perkins concluded.

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