Capital Reserve Fund will aid Gates County schools

Published 9:26 am Friday, June 23, 2023

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GATESVILLE – A request made by the Gates County Board of Education to immediately gain additional funds from county government has been granted.

As part of their meeting here last week where the revised budget plan for FY 2023-24 was on the agenda for discussion, the Gates County Board of Commissioners approved a one-time, non-reoccurring appropriation of $828,000 for the school system’s current year budget.

The money will come from the county’s Capital Reserve Fund, which reportedly has a current balance of over two million dollars.

Since last month, County Manager Scott Sauer said the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education have engaged in “discussions, deliberations, and collaboration to determine how to support the school system during this period of fiscal challenges.”

He added that effort has included “advocating on behalf of the Board of Education to our representatives in the NC General Assembly for funding for expanding appropriations to the Small Schools/Small County program.

Sauer said the county’s school system is hopeful that a projected increase in the state’s FY 2023-2025 biennium budget for Small Schools/Small County funding will be realized, which will revert the $828,000 back to the county’s coffers.

“As we await the state’s adoption of the FY 23-25 biennium budget, the County Commissioners and the Board of Education approved a Memorandum of Agreement to provide a one-time, nonrecurring appropriation for the school system in the amount of $828,000,” Sauer said, adding the agreement was approved on June 6 by both elected boards.

That agreement includes a reversion clause which will be exercised in the event that the NC General Assembly’s FY 23-25 biennium budget meets or exceeds the targeted increase in Small Schools/Small County funding.

“Given the fiscal condition of the state, the cash they have available to work with this year, if they can hit those targets this money may not be needed,” Sauer noted. “There is a reversion clause (in the special, one-time appropriation) to protect us if the state comes through to help bridge the gap on a number of things.”

The memorandum of agreement between the county and the Board of Education to transfer $828,000 of Capital Reserve funds is to replenish the school system’s fund balance and for the discretion of the Board of Education to address the financial needs and operations of the school district. It was reported that the school system’s fund balance had dipped below $250,000.

The current amount of Small School funding from the state for Gates County is $1,548,700 and the anticipated increase is $2,168,180 or a net gain of $619,480.

The resolution further adds that the Gates County Board of Education agrees, upon accepting the one-time appropriation from the county, not to seek further action to initiate a funding dispute for a period of three years.

“Now that you have their formal request in hand, it’s up to this board whether to say yes or no to that request,” Sauer advised the commissioners. “If you say yes, then you must approve a budget amendment for the $828,000.”

He added that the current amount of money in the school system’s Capital Reserve Fund is built through local option sales tax. In order to use it for anyone other than a capital project requires approval of the county commissioners.

Commissioner Linda Hofler motioned to approve the resolution detailing the transfer of the $828,000. Commissioner Brian Rountree offered a second and the motion was approved 4-1, with Commissioner Emily Truman casting the lone “no” vote.

Later in the meeting, Truman noted her support for the school system, but stated she had issues with “some terms in the memorandum of agreement.”

The accompanying budget amendment to formally move the $828,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund to the county’s General Fund in order to write a check for $828,000 to the Board of Education was also approved, this time by a 5-0 vote.

That money was appropriated June 15.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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