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Budget a hot topic at BOE meeting

Finances are a never-ending subject of discussion and analysis for school systems all over the state in today's tumultuous financial climate, and this same situation applies to the Andalusia City Board of Education.

During its regular meeting Monday, the board heard a financial update from Superintendent Pete Kelley.

Kelley said Gov. Bob Riley has yet to present his plan of how to solve the current financial dilemmas facing school systems, but said he has received word that details of Riley's plan should be presented in the very near future.

"(Riley's plan should soon) be on the table, and we should know something," said Kelley.

Board member Danny Posey said he has heard speculation that the plan may involve a one-cent sales tax or a one-mil property tax per year for the next five years.

Posey said he has heard the plan may also include raising the threshold of the state income tax.

Board Attorney Bill Alverson also said the plan could possibly include taxes on soft drinks and automobiles.

Kelley said it is possible that a special legislative session in the state may also deal with some of the education-related finance issues.

"We are still hoping that by the time we receive our final budget, we hope it might look better than the proposed budget," said Kelley.

Board Chairman Dr. Michael Wells said he had noticed in the general fund that the board's bank money had significantly decreased and inquired about the reason for the decrease.

Kelley noted the board had paid out approximately $125,000 in expenditures, including construction costs.

He said personnel decisions could possibly have been made regarding cuts at Monday's meeting, but said he is waiting as long as he can before making those decisions with the hope that the system may receive good news in terms of the budget for the upcoming school year.

Kelley noted that the board recently had an opportunity to discuss in detail the financial problems facing the system with the Andalusia City Council at a recent council workshop session and that the board had in essence requested $260,000 from the council to assist in balancing its budget.

"(The council) was sympathetic to our cause, and were going to discuss it and talked about having a special meeting to address what they can do for us," said Kelley. "(Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson during a recent civic club meeting) pointed out that 13 percent of their budget is already going to our schools. We are going (to make a presentation) at the Kiwanis Club (next Monday) and we will get to talk (with some of the council members) there."

During the recent meeting of the Andalusia City Council in which the board made its presentation, Johnson referred to the current educational financial system as a system that is broken and that the system needs to be examined carefully.

Johnson also said he feels it is unfair that superintendents such as Kelley are having to be placed in the position of having to come to city councils and to ask for money.