Reserve fund remains intact

Published 8:36 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

JACKSON — Funds placed in a county emergency reserve for Northampton County Schools will stay where they are.

On Monday, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners voted to keep $100,000 in an emergency fund after research revealed there is more money available in school ADM and Lottery funds for the school system to use for capital improvement projects.

At the board’s last meeting, a request came to the county via a letter from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eric Bracy and the Board of Education requesting to draw down the $100,000 in emergency funds to pay for unplanned capital projects in order to replenish their fund balance.

“This request is based on the actual expenditures on roof replacements at Conway Middle School and NCHS-West and the required replacement of the heating boiler at NCHS-East,” the letter states. “The roofing projects were planned expenditures, but the cost exceeded the funds available in ADM and Lottery appropriations by approximately $420,600.”

The letter further explains that while some funds were budgeted to address the heating needs at NCHS-East, the expenditure of $141,500 to replace the entire boiler and supply system was not anticipated.

“You delayed the decision and instructed me to go back and do some additional research on (how much) Lottery funds and ADM funds remain for draw down,” said County Manager Wayne Jenkins to the commissioners. “According to the research that was done by our Finance Officer (Dot Vick), was in fact that there are $10,072.94 in ADM funds and $60,759.40 in Lottery funds that are available for draw down.”

He added the agency in control of the funds said that the accounts should not be closed out, but funds that are available may be drawn down with enough in the account to be kept open.

Commission Vice Chair James Hester took issue with the fact that school officials had work completed before coming to the board to request the money.

“The letter stated ‘capital outlay as needed,’ that’s not what that $100,000 was set aside for,” he said. “That $100,000 is set aside for emergency use and they would come back to us with that request on the emergency. What they have done is that they’ve gone ahead and completed that work from their funds.”

He added he believed the school system should draw down on the funds available.

“We’re not at the end of the year yet and they could have an emergency a day after tomorrow and need that (money),” Hester said. “If we were to send that $100,000 over there we don’t have anything in the budget to help them with.”

Commissioner Robert Carter recommended the school system draw down on the roughly $70,000 available.

Upon conferring briefly with Vick, Jenkins noted the $70,000 was the amount available as of May 17.

“There’s been another quarter added to that, so it’s going to be more than $70,000 available for draw down,” Jenkins said.

The commissioners agreed that’s where school officials should get the money from to replenish their fund balance.

“We should keep ours for emergency,” said Carter.

“Absolutely, I agree with that,” said Hester.

Carter made a motion that the school board draw down on the ADM and Lottery funds and the county keep the $100,000 in emergency reserve. Hester seconded the motion and the measure passed without objection with Commissioners Virginia Spruill and Chester Deloatch absent from the meeting due to illness.