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Funding transfer approved

WINDSOR – Getting their request in just under the wire, Bertie County Schools will be receiving $100,000 of Capital Outlay Funds transferred to its General Fund.

The request was made to the Bertie County Commissioners mere minutes before the start of their May 1 meeting held at the county Administration Building, and the funding transfer needed the Commissioners’ approval.

The transfer request came in the form of an email from BCS Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill on behalf of the Bertie County Board of Education.

“They are addressing their deficit reduction process and are making the request – which is statutory required,” said Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer. “If they want to move money out of either their capital outlay or out of their fund balance into operating expenses then they need this Board’s approval.”

 

Sauer went on to say his office had received the request just after 3:30 p.m. prior to the start of the 4 p.m. Commissioner’s meeting.

“They are using the term ‘emergency request’ to transfer capital outlay funds in the amount of $100,000 to their General Fund,” Sauer said.

There was an accompanying email from BCS Finance Officer Lisa Rabon saying the funds would be used to reduce local contract service expenditures to assist with the general fund deficit for the current year.

Back in April, Hill appeared before the Commissioners detailing the Bertie School Board’s plans to correct problems with its current financial situation. This included a staff reduction plan that will eliminate 28.5 positions by the end of the school term. This includes administration positions, classified employees as well as classroom teachers.

At the Monday meeting, Commissioner Ron Wesson made a motion to allow the transfer of funds to the BCS operating fund, seconded by Commission Chairman John Trent.

During discussion prior to the vote, Wesson said he couldn’t understand why the school board hadn’t spent dollars that had already been allocated, and questioned why this had not been seen by the School Board – or the Commissioners – prior to Bertie County Schools’ latest audit which revealed the deficit.

Wesson was referring to nearly $98,000 shown as “balance forward” from school Capital Outlay funds provided by the county during the 2015-16 budget year.

“If we line-item dollars that we give them, then we have the ability to know that, and that these dollars are restricted to the lines that we give them,” he noted. “When I see things like $95,000 was not spent knowing the capital needs they have, then it makes we wonder why weren’t they spent? I certainly wasn’t aware of it, and I’m not sure they (School Board) were aware of it.”

Wesson further stated that with line-item accounting of what’s being spent the Commissioners could then more easily follow the money trail.

“An awful lot of counties – and I won’t say most – are doing that now, to make sure the dollars are spent appropriately as they should be,” he acknowledged. “I suggest we do that.”

With no further discussion, the Commissioners passed the motion for the funds transfer unanimously.