BoE refunds part of employees’ pay cuts, lowers debt millage

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It was payback time for teachers last week as the Fayette County Board of Education found a way to give back part of the 4.5 percent pay cut imposed on school system staff last year.

The board voted to “refund” approximately one-third of the cut in a one-time payment. And taxpayers got some relief when the board voted to cut the bond millage rate for 2010 in half.

School system Comptroller Laura Brock gave an overview of a previous discussion where several board members wanted to return part or all of the 4.5 percent of salary cut. Commenting on the direction by the board to look at the possibilities, Brock said the school system could “refund” approximately one-third of the 4.5 percent pay cut, an amount that would total $1.78 million of the $5.4 million produced by the cut.

Brock said the refund would come as a one-time payment for those employed prior to August 2009. The board agreed by unanimous vote.

With the end of the recession nowhere in sight, it is still unknown whether the state will force additional budget cuts later this year.

And Fayette County property owners will see a decrease in their tax bills later this year courtesy of the Fayette County Board of Education by way of a 52 percent reduction in the debt service millage rate.

Brock last week told school board members that the proposed debt service millage would decrease to 1.65 mills, a 52 percent decrease from the current 3.42 mills. The decrease would amount to a savings of approximately $177 on a home valued at $250,000, Brock said.

The reason for the decrease in the bond debt millage is two-fold. A portion is due to the refinancing last year of the 1999 bond, with the other factor coming from the use of a portion of the school system’s 1-cent sales tax revenues, according to Audits & Financial Reporting Coordinator Tom Gray.

As for the much higher Maintenance & Operation millage rate, the board voted to keep the same 20 mill rate as last year.