February 26th , 2013 10:32 am Leave a comment

City mayor takes issue with school funding call

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Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander says that while the city’s allocation to its school system has remained the same since 2001-2002, the system’s total revenue has risen significantly during that period.

With budget workshops looming, Alexander responded to financial concerns discussed during a recent Elizabethton Board of Education workshop.

During the workshop, several school board members expressed concern that the city’s allocation to the schools had not increased since 2001-2002, and asked system administrators to ask the city for more funding.

Curt Alexander

Curt Alexander

Alexander also said he believed the school system’s request for more money stemmed from a need for space for students not from the city – tuition students from Carter County schools’ areas.

Alexander said he wanted to clarify that while the city’s contribution had remained flat for the past 11 years, the school system had seen increases from sales tax and property tax collections. The mayor said the system’s most recent audit showed revenues to the school system had climbed by $5,784,904 since 2006. He noted the 1/2-cent sales tax increase for capital improvements was not a part of those funds.

“The total funding picture for the school system comes from the property tax and the sale tax and the city’s allocation,” Alexander said. “If you look at total revenue, revenues have continued to increase over time. Our operating contribution has not increased because others have. Whether that number comes from $2.3 million or sales tax, it comes from the same people who are paying taxes. It comes from the same pot.”

Alexander said operationally, the school system is on “excellent” footing and is doing very well. He said the school system’s fund balance is at 8 percent of its revenue when the state minimum requirement is 3 percent.

“I have to commend the school system for doing so well,” he said. “They are managing their operating money very well.”

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