Board budgets $3.5M surplus

BLAIR – As Fairfield County school leaders seek $600,000 in tax breaks for a developer of a proposed teacher housing development, the district committed to spending $3.5 million in anticipated surplus funds on facility needs and salaries.

At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Fairfield County Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to appropriate the funds, with $2.5 million going to facilities, while $1 million was earmarked for salaries, though pay increases won’t come until 2019-2020.

Board members Annie McDaniel and Paula Hartman dissented.

McDaniel, a frequent critic of employee pay, said she only opposed the motion because she thought the district isn’t doing enough to increase pay.

“I am happy that we put some money for salaries, but I am a little disappointed that we still have some people making $13,000, $14,000 [a year],” McDaniel said. “Do we have any money in the budget for bonuses?”

Dr. J.R. Green, district superintendent, said the budget includes enough money for $200 holiday bonuses for every employee, the same as last year.

McDaniel thought the bonus should be higher, but only for lower paid employees. Her motion to amend the original motion to approve the $3.5 million called for a $500 bonus for every employee making less than $20,000. The motion died due to a lack of a second.

Green said the $1 million would be placed into the general fund for the 2019-2020 budget. He said the district is preparing a “very substantial salary proposal” for next year, but didn’t disclose specifics.

Setting aside $1 million now would provide some financial wiggle room when the time comes to implement the proposal, he said.

“We are preparing for a very, very robust salary proposal,” Green said.

“I understand robust, Dr. Green, but what about equity and fairness?” McDaniel responded. “$13,000? Come on, really?

“I’m not sorry that I put it [the motion] on the floor,” McDaniel continued. “I’m sorry that you people don’t care about people who make $13,000.”

Board secretary Sylvia Harrison said she’s not against higher bonuses, but thought bonuses should be uniform for all employees.

“If you’re going to give it to some, I say give it to all,” Harrison said.

Staff also recommended appropriating $2.5 million to the district’s capital projects fund to pay for various facility needs, according to board documents.

Leading the laundry list of items was field turf at $615,000, followed by security upgrades at $300,000. The district also plans to spend $200,000 on each of the following projects: bathroom upgrades, computer and Chromebook replacements, and auditorium seating.

Other facility needs listed in board documents included playground equipment and rubber mulch, fencing and a new scoreboard.

In other business, the board received an update on the proposed “Teacher Village,” a proposal to build teacher housing on 22 acres behind the district off U.S. 321 Bypass in Winnsboro.

Green said he wanted to clarify comments made during the September board meeting. He noted that $600,000 of the estimated $3.6 million price tag consists of tax abatements that would be awarded the developer.

“The tax incentive will provide about $600,000 over a seven-year period,” Green said. “It’s not that the school district or the county needs to come up with money on the front end.”

Fairfield County has not said whether or not it will agree to grant a tax abatement. School officials presented the teacher village proposal to a county subcommittee Monday, and also plan to address County Council on Monday, Oct. 22.

Comments

  1. David R. Williams says

    Since when does schools become real estate brokers. Fairfield is the largest owner of industrial property in SC yet can not draw a Corp. to come here. What wrong with this picture. Fairfield County Dept. of Education is not in the Development business. They are in the education business. Hanging a carrot in front of the mule will not make the mule to do a better job. Fairfield County need investment not a cheaper housing but to draw industry. I will vote to for Fairfield School board to answer to the people at the county level not there personal needs in Winnsboro. This county is bigger than Winnsboro SC. Where are you for District #2. I Have never seen you> You go Figure.

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