The Aiken County school board will vote on the 2012-13 school budget Tuesday after months of planning and receiving public input.
The district’s annual budgeting process requires “hours upon hours, days upon days, weeks upon weeks, months upon months of behind-the-scenes work,” said district comptroller Tray Traxler.
“Just developing and adopting the budget is about a six-month process,” he said.
For the past few years, the process has begun with a Budget 101 workshop. For the 2012-13 budgeting process, it was held in late November.
The goal is to answer questions and familiarize people with topics that often come up during the process, he said.
“We have heard people say ‘we don’t understand the budget’,” he said. “This gives a ground-level view of the budget.”
During the workshop in November, the presentation included a discussion of the different funds the district has, where the money comes from for each fund, and an explanation of terms people may hear regarding the budget.
In the months between then and now, there was a lot of behind-the-scenes work and research to plan and compose the tentative budget that is now up for consideration and several budget workshops were also held, Traxler said.
“The version they (the school board) approved in May is a tentative budget and it’s not final by any stretch right now,” he said.
Since a “good portion” of the budget is made up of money from the state, the district’s budget is still fluid at this point, pending decisions made at the state level, he noted.
Public input has also be an important part of the process. Public input was sought online at the district’s web site and earlier this month, the public was also given two opportunities to comment on the budget.
During a special called meeting on June 5 and a public hearing session during the regular school board meeting on June 12, most of the comments were centered on the tentative budget’s proposed 4.6-mill school operating tax increase.
The operating millage has not increased since the 2009-10 school year.
The mill increase, if adopted, would not apply to primary residences because of South Carolina Act 388, which exempts “owner-occupied residential property from school operating millage”, according to the act.
Approximately $1.5 million would result from the proposed millage increase, if the mill increase is adopted, said Traxler.
The school board will vote on the budget during its regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the district’s office, 1000 Brookhaven Drive, Aiken.
The complete tentative budget, the Budget 101 presentation and the district’s other financial information can be found at acps.schoolfusion.us.