CHIPLEY - The Washington County School board met in two special sessions recently to discuss the both the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year and the proposed half-cent sales tax.
The sales tax, which would be used for capital outlay and technology projects, would have to be approved by a majority vote of the county's voters. If approved, the levy would begin in January 2015 and last a period of ten years.
The Board of County Commissioners will first have to agree to place the tax on the November ballot as a referendum. The tax is proposed solely at the discretion of the school board. Expected to generate approximately $1,281,546 in revenue, the resulting funds will be used for the following projects:
- Construction and remodeling projects, such as construction for the new Kate M. Smith Elementary School, Washington-Holmes Technical Center classroom remodeling, Chipley High School and Roulhac Middle School cafeteria expansion, improvements for the Vernon High School track, and the Vernon Middle School baseball field. The funds will also help offset the cost of leasing portable classrooms.
- Maintenance of various school and district plants and roof repairs, including classroom renovations at Vernon Elementary School (VES), Historic Chipley High School renovations, resurfacing of the commercial vehicle driving testing range, and updates to the district's public restrooms and athletic fields.
- Purchase of vehicles and equipment, including ten new school buses, school furniture and equipment for the new elementary school and new classrooms at VES, lease-purchase of new computers, and upgrading the district's technology infrastructure.
- Fund cost associated with environmental compliance, such as removal of hazardous waste and help fund property and casualty premiums to insure the school board's educational and ancillary plants.
The school board's proposed operating expenditures are approximately 16.5 percent more than last year. The proposed budget includes $95,527,725 in both total revenues and expenditures, with state funding generating the most revenue at $31,755,217 and instruction cost being the largest expense at $24,660,973.
A final budget hearing is set for 5:01 p.m. on Sept. 08, preceding the school board's regularly monthly meeting.