Budget cuts cost schools millions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Budget cuts cost schools millions

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November 15, 2002

Albany-- State tax revenues are off--by a lot, nearly $277 million dollars just in the last three months. Now everyone from the state patrol to the local school system will be paying the price--with two percent budget cuts.

Drops in sales tax collections state-wide is mostly to blame. But, it's a different story in Albany. People are spending locally--but our local services will still be losing millions of dollars.

Sue Averett and her beenie babies are a fixture at the Albany Mall, "I've been in the mall for five years." She says sales have been good at her cart--and does not hide her surprise when asked about the recent budget cuts, "I don't understand they are buying, they really are. We've had a good year."

"We was gone for a month and my girlfriend said the economy went down when I left." Mitzy Baker says her spending habits have not changed. She is not alone. Another shopper, William Wilson, says, "We don't go outside of our means but we shop around, spend the same amount of money."

"My indication is that the sales tax numbers are holding up." Dougherty County School System's Finance Director Robert Lloyd says the local penny tax collection has remained steady over the last year--bringing in between 1.2 and 1.3 million dollars each month.

But, the school system will be losing roughly 1.3 million dollars due to state cuts. Lloyd says, "I'm not sure where it is happening, but maybe they were over optimistic in what they thought the sales tax numbers bring in or maybe the sales tax holiday affected the budget." Whatever the reason, school leaders are struggling to figure out where to trim back.

And, here in Albany, people are not pinching pennies, but contributing their usual tax share.

State agencies are being told to prepare for the two-percent budget cuts. Of course, the state legislature will make the final decision in January whether to pass the budget reduction.

Posted at 5:45 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com