Local News

February 18, 2014

Tax increase likely

Dalton school board considering ‘all options’

Dalton Public Schools has been “cut down to the bone” after years of financial struggles, says Superintendent Jim Hawkins.

That stark reality has members of the Board of Education spending hours tooling and retooling the school system’s budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1, in hopes of staving off painful cuts or tax increases. But a combination of both is likely if there’s not an unexpected boost in the local economy, officials said.

Options being discussed by board members include an across-the-board cut in salaries for all school staff of no more than 1 percent, ending some parts of bus transportation or requiring a fee to ride the bus.

Other options include a hiring chill that could have Hawkins personally overseeing whether to fill vacant spots after staff members retire or resign and a seemingly inevitable property tax rate increase.

Board members met to discuss the budget at a called meeting on Tuesday at Dalton Middle School. They are considering a resolution that they won’t discuss layoffs of staff and reductions to the school calendar, which sits at 182 days for students and 220 days for most staff members. Another resolution under consideration is to keep the reserve fund, which is currently $8 million, at no less than $7 million.

Board members are set to approve those resolutions at their Monday, March 10, meeting at City Hall at 6:30 p.m.

That reserve fund is a crucial component to the discussion, school officials said. That money is what carries the school system through the summer months when money gets tight and is later replenished in December when property tax bills are paid. The fund pays for salaries and daily operations during the summer, said Theresa Perry, the school system’s chief financial officer.

A budget forecast provided by the school system expects $61.9 million in revenue and $69.5 million in expenses for fiscal year 2015, leaving a $7.6 million shortfall. If there’s no change to the budget, the backup fund of $8 million would be reduced to approximately $500,000, which wouldn’t be enough to pay staff in the summer, Perry said.

Board members facing a similar crunch last year opted to use $4.5 million from the reserve fund, then roughly $12.5 million, instead of making deep cuts or raising taxes. That doesn’t appear to be an option this year.

Text Only
Local News
  • Dalton State turtle 4.jpg In the mood for love: Encouraging breeding, saving species

    For one Dalton State College couple, a cool misty shower is more effective than Barry White and candles at turning thoughts to love. And keeping this couple feeling amorous could mean survival of the species.

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Beaulieu expects 2,000 employees to be affected by week-long shutdown

    About 2,000 employees of Beaulieu of America in Georgia and Alabama will be affected by the company’s plans to conduct an inventory of its buildings and facilities next week.

    August 1, 2014

  • Moral monday 3 mlh.jpg Four ‘jailed for justice’ tell their stories

    Arturo Martinez was just 8 when his family came to the United States from Mexico, and though he is one of more than 500,000 young undocumented immigrants granted deferred removal by President Barack Obama, Martinez said his dream of pursuing higher education is out of reach because of Georgia policies.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tanner Blackton: Diners, servers must show understanding

    Try to imagine this: You’ve been on your feet for hours, hoisting heavy plates, buzzing from table to table, taking orders, running food, refilling drinks. All the while, you have a smile plastered on your face and a go-to attitude, even when people blame you for things that are out of your control, berate you for accidentally mixing up an order, or loudly complain about being seated underneath an air conditioning vent.

    August 1, 2014

  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014

  • Two charged with tampering with evidence in drug investigation

    Two people have been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the synthetic marijuana bust in February involving a Dalton business owner.

    July 30, 2014