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News from the Board -- June 27, 2019

 

On Thursday, June 27, 2019, the Onslow County Board of Education held a special workshop meeting to vote on the adoption of the 2019-2020 budget and to discuss a resolution seeking a one-quarter cent sales and use tax in Onslow County.  

Before approving the consent agenda, the Board unanimously voted to move the budget amendments agenda item from the consent agenda to the first item under general business. From there, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Hollamon presented the budget amendments he and staff made following the official passing of the Board of Commissioners’ countywide budget that provided less funding for the school system than the district’s original budget proposal asked for. Amendments included eliminating a central support services position, deferring plans to hire an additional school psychologist, and seeking funding for the additional math curriculum items through State funding sources. The budget will, however, still include funding for additional school resource officers and a suicide prevention program.  

The biggest change to the budget was a committed fund balance for disaster recovery. This would commit a portion of the fund balance in the amount of $1 million. The committed fund balance does not take money from any other fund or represent an increase in the budget, but rather a portion of the unassigned fund balance that will be earmarked for future disaster recovery needs. The Board unanimously voted to adopt the committed fund balance.  

In its next order of business, the Board voted on the adoption of the 2019-2020 Budget. Before voting, Board Member Bob Williams thanked Mr. Hollamon and his staff for the thorough job they did in preparing the budget this year and the work they did to very specifically break down where money will be spent. The Board voted unanimously to adopt the buget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  

Finally, the Board discussed a resolution seeking a one-quarter cent sales and use tax. Board Chair Pam Thomas explained that, in an effort to work with county commissioners to support a quarter-cent sales tax, a resolution written by BOE members in support of House Bill 667, which is currently being considered by the North Carolina General Assembly, was sent to the BOC for their review. The Board was presented with a version of the resolution that included amendments from the county.  

Some Board members expressed concerns with some of the changed language, including the change from the BOE’s version that called for a one-quarter sales tax for the purpose of funding “K-12 education” to the county’s version which called for a sales tax to fund “education and public safety.” Concerns primarily focused on how the less specific language may lead to confusion or vagueness if it comes time for citizens to vote for the tax on a ballot or when the county and school system needed to work out how revenue would be divided.  

Ms. Thomas asked that the Board, in the interest of time, consider either amending the county’s resolution or approving either the new or previous version of the existing resolution. Board members unanimously approved the county’s amendments to the resolution, under the understanding that the BOE and BOC could come together later to negotiate specifics on ballot language and revenues.  

Next, the resolution will be signed by the Chairman and Clerk of the Board of Commissioners, the Chairman of the Board of Education, and the Onslow County Schools Superintendent and sent to state legislatures for their consideration.