Pubdate: Tue, 25 Mar 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel


HARTSELLE - The city of Hartselle's financial obligation to the school 
system may increase by as much as $500,000 next year.

"If we meet their request, something in the city will go lacking," Mayor 
Clif Knight said.

To help the school system overcome an estimated 8 percent cut in state 
funding, the school board last week requested a $300,000 one-time 

The city has not decided if it will give the money, but Councilman Richard 
"Dick" Carter already knows how he will vote.

"We can't trash the city to help the school system," he said. "We have 
millions of dollars of needs in the city."

Even without the $300,000 request, the city's budget for the school system 
will increase next year, according to the mayor.

"Our bond payment for the school system is going to increase, and we're 
going to have to take a look at the school resource officer and D.A.R.E. 
program," Knight said.

The city funded the school resource officer with a federal grant that 
requires Hartselle to pay his salary the fourth year. That fourth year 
starts in October.

"This is going to cost the city about $35,000 next year," Knight said.

The school system has provided a $12,000 supplement for the D.A.R.E. 
program, but Superintendent Lee Hartsell said those funds will not be 
available next year.

"If we get no help from them, we're going to have to take this money from 
city funds or eliminate the program," the mayor said.

Knight added: "If we give them the $300,000, our line item for the school 
system will increase from $1.1 million this year to about $1.6 million. 
We're just barely keeping our heads above water."

Councilmen Tom Chappell and Allen Stoner gave the school system's request a 
favorable review last week.

Chapell said the city's budget is heavily dependent on sales taxes and that 
there is a direct connection to sales taxes and the school system.

The council planned for a 2 percent increase in sales tax revenue. Knight 
said the increase has been about 2.2 percent through the first five months 
of the fiscal year, which started Oct. 1.

Hartselle's general fund had a $4.6 million balance at the end of January.

"That's our operating fund," Knight said.

"It's not a reserve. We don't need to milk the General Fund."

Knight said the city provides many services for the school system that 
residents do not see.

The council, he said, provides playing fields for all the high school 
athletic programs except for football and basketball. The cost to the city 
is about $70,000 annually.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens