Local News

May 4, 2014

Murray school board candidates square off over deficit

CHATSWORTH — Frank Loyd believes the fact that Murray County Board of Education members planned to spend about $2 million more in the previous fiscal year than the school system took in is revenue is a trend that shouldn’t continue.

School board member Robbie Moore says there was no “deficit” in that spending because the school system had the additional funding in reserves and did a good job saving throughout the year.

The two are in the May 20 Republican primary for the District 5 Board of Education seat. Moore is in his first term on the board and has two children who attend Chatsworth Elementary School. Loyd is a retiree with a granddaughter who attends Eton Elementary School. No Democrats qualified for the position.

The candidates spoke at a Murray County Tea Party-sponsored forum Thursday evening at the Murray County Senior Center. About 60 people attended. Each candidate in a contested race was allowed time to respond to questions from moderator Kevin Tisdale, who collected the queries from the community, and candidates were allowed to offer rebuttals to their opponents’ statements.

Asked about the fact that the school system’s general budget for the previous fiscal year was roughly $51 million in expenditures and $49 million in revenues, Loyd said the finance department “does an excellent job” with what they have to work with, but with only $1.7 million in reserve funding, board members won’t be able to afford the same deficit spending again this year.

“But we did not have a $2 million deficit,” Moore said. “We ended the year in the good ... We’ve kept our budget exactly where we need to be.”

State law requires school systems to pass a balanced budget, meaning they must have a plan to cover all their general fund expenses the same year. Many school systems take from money they’ve set aside to cover payroll or other expenses when cash flow is low to make up the difference between their expected revenues and expenditures.

Loyd and Moore were also asked what they would do to make information on the budget more easily accessible. Tisdale said an individual who spoke with him reported asking for a copy of the school system’s budget and being refused. Loyd suggested putting the document online, or at least a budget summary.

“I would be ecstatic if we had a way to put it online,” Moore said.

Moore said he wasn’t sure who the budget seeker talked with, but people sometimes don’t know what they’re asking for. The entire budget is a couple hundred pages, he said, while the budget summary is much shorter.

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