County BOE finds new revenue source

Published 1:15 am Thursday, February 4, 2010

With proration staring educators in the face, school systems statewide are looking for innovative ways to create revenue, and Tuesday, Covington County School board members found one that could generate funds equal to one teacher’s salary.

It’s called a purchase card, and through an agreement with Region’s Bank, use of the card will pay the school system a 1 percent “cash back” on its purchases, interim superintendent Terry Holley said.

“It’s a win-win for us, and it’s a creative way to earn money,” he said. “It works like a credit card. They debit our account on the 10th of the month. There’s no long-term balances, no interest. If we spend $3 million in a month, that equals $30,000 in a rebate – it’s almost a teacher’s salary.”

Chief financial officer Shauna Robertson described the process as the “next wave in handling account payables.”

Robertson said systems have two options when using the program – a standard credit card option, which allows administrators to tailor control-measures for its use; and what the company calls a “ghost card” that operates similar to online bill pay.

“The way it works is that we would still follow our same purchase order procedures and the vendor is paid immediately,” she said.

“We’re issued a number and can use it to give vendors immediately.”

Holley said there is a $500,000 per month charge minimum or the system is charged a $1,500 fee.

“We don’t anticipate that to be problem,” Holley said of the minimum charge.

“And when you look at this, if we spend $1.8 million, we’re able to recapture $18,000 back. That’s almost a teacher’s salary.

“Plus you have to look at it this way, there’s no printing accounts payable checks, no postage, no envelopes and you don’t have to pay someone to stuff them and take them to the post office,” he said.

Additionally, Holley said all construction bid contracts will also be worded so that contractors must accept Visa as a form of payment.

Other school systems in the state such as Jefferson County and Mobile are already participating, he said.

“These federal funds (stimulus funds) we received are just a band aid and it looks like we’re going to be facing another half-a-percent of proration at the beginning of the next school year,” Holley said.

“We have to do what we can to protect this system.”

In other business, the board:

recognized Patricia Gable with the Covington County Soil and Water Conservation for her work in the county schools.