Although officials from the Lamar County School discovered a shortfall – showing a deficit in expected funds – in the ad valorem tax collection for Fiscal Year 2022, the business practices employed by the district over the last year should ensure the district is able to forego the shortfall and avoid adding any burden to taxpayers.
The matter was discussed at a recent meeting of the school district’s board of trustees, when superintendent Steven Hampton said the district would not need to borrow any funds from the Lamar County Board of Supervisors, although forgoing that measure may not last into the next school year.
“Because we’ve been able to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and save on things before the prices of everything went through the roof, I feel like at this time it’d be okay for us to forego the shortfall and do not add any more tax burden to our community,” Hampton said. “I want to be (very clear) in that this is not something that we can sustain for the future; this is something that we have been able to do this year.
“(I request) that at this time, we forego pursuing any shortfall borrowing.”
Hampton said while numbers regarding the amount of the shortfall have been inconsistent, that figure is expectedly between $900,000 and $1 million.
“The county says one (number); we say another,” he said. “So I don’t know which amount that we would need to identify.
“But we feel like we can sustain that this year due to basically reorganizing and being able to identify savings in (certain) things.”
Hampton said the shortfall was caused, in large part, because of recent inflation measures, which has resulted in higher prices on things across the board – from gasoline, groceries and supplies to everything in between.
“(The amount of funds) is shorter than we requested,” he said. “(Not too long ago), gas prices weren’t so much, the cost of things weren’t so much.
“Now we’re looking at higher diesel costs, higher paper costs for copies, higher electricity, you name it. It just seems like everything costs three times as much.”
Hampton pointed out that although the cost of food also has risen, school district officials have not raised the price of school meals for students. Those prices remain at $1.75 for breakfast and $2.75 for lunch.
Prices for adults – which include teachers, faculty and staff – are $3 for breakfast and $4.25 for lunch.
“We’re going to sustain that for as long as possible,” Hampton said. “This kind of goes along with that; we don’t want to take the chance of passing along any additional tax burden.”