Budget Committee Approves BOE Budget
Building Program Dead?

At Thursday's Loudon County Commission's budget committee meeting, the budget committee voted to accept the school board's proposed budget of $793,000.00 in new operating expenses for the 2009-2010 school year. The budget includes $430,000.00 for text books and the rest is for new employees and raises. If the budget committee's recommendation is passed by the full commission, it would effectively kill the planned multi million dollar building program currently under way.

After a lengthy discussion of the proposed budget, budget member Don Miller made a motion to send the budget back the the school board to include the same funding as last year without the requested $793,000.00 in new operating expenses. Miller's motion failed for lack of a second. Miller's motion was followed by a motion by budget member Harold Duff to fund the full request of the school board. Duff's motion was seconded by Chris Park. Voting to fund the school board budget request were Duff, Park, David Meers and county mayor Doyle Arp who is the chairman of the budget committee. Miller was the lone no vote. The budget committee's recommendation will now go to the full commission for a vote. Due to legal fund sharing requirements, Lenoir City schools get around 30% of  Loudon County schools funding. This means that the commission will need to increase funding to the schools by more than a million dollars in order to achieve the county school's request.

Six months ago, the school board voted by a 7-3 margin to enter into a building program that would include a new Pre K -12 school in Greenback, a new 6-8 middle school in Loudon, combining Loudon Elementary and Fort Loudon Middle into a Pre K - 5 and expansion or replacing the cafeteria at Philadelphia. Estimates for the building program range from 35-40 million dollars.

Funding for the building program would come from the rural debt fund that would need additional funding from the commission and the school board's current revenues. This would require in part the board to adopt a budget with no new spending. If the proposed budget passes the full commission there would be no money left to fund the building program unless the commission votes for a large property tax increase which is not likely. Nearly a million dollars has already been committed to the building program and much of it spent on the architectural plans for the building program.