February 18, 2014

Tax increase likely

Dalton school board considering ‘all options’


Searching for a crucial $500,000 cut

Board members charged school administrators with finding $500,000 in other cuts to avoid the need for a 1 percent salary reduction to all school staff.

“Can we look at areas other than impacting teachers?” Laird asked. “Someone has got to come back and find $500,000 to avoid the salary cut.”

Hawkins said the cuts will be found along with “consequences.”

“I don’t know how we are going to get there, but that’s what we’re going to work on,” he said. “That’s our target, to find $500,000. Buses are not in that, salary and days are not in that. That cut has to come from other kinds of things we will have to look for. But the consequences to those cuts will be laid out. And then it’s a risk management kind of decision. Is it worth the consequence to save? Is it worth the pain that it causes?”

Crutchfield said he believes the school system has managed taxpayer money well and that if people feel like criticizing board members they should consider that expenses have gone down from $61 million in fiscal year 2009 to $59.9 million in fiscal year 2013, despite an increase in the number of students from 6,836 to 7,703.

“Whatever our position is going to be once we decide that, we didn’t do this in a vacuum,” he said. “You have to take into account several years of recent history. That’s why, when we go back out and say this is what we are doing, and we have a meeting and people want to come talk about the millage rate, talk about cutting services, whatever it be, it’s going to be really important ... to understand the history.”

“All they’re going to hear, if we decide to, is that we’re raising the millage rate,” he continued. “That’s all certain people are going to hear. They’ll think, ‘They’re raising my taxes and they don’t know what the heck they’re doing over there.’ I think we’ve been fairly good stewards of our taxpayers’ investments during these years.”

Laird said board members are “doing our absolute best to keep everything open and on the table.”

“There is not an answer yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of things were looking at. We’re looking at all options.”

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