Beaufort News

School district: Accounting error necessitates tax increase

The Beaufort County Board of Education approved a $174-million budget Tuesday night that calls for a 1.8 percent tax increase which district officials say is needed to correct an error in accounting.

District officials say accounting rules for special tax districts haven't been followed. As a result they will ask County Council to raise school taxes to correct the error.

If County Council agrees, property owners subject to school operating taxes will see their bills rise.

The hike equates to about $2 million in revenue.

However, the school district won't realize a windfall. The adjustment would then decrease the district's available state funding by $2 million, said Phyllis White, the district's operational services chief.

The result on the district's budget for the next fiscal year would be a wash, she said.

The adjustment is designed to bring the accounting into sync with state statue and a 2002 tax-increment financing agreement between the county and district.

"Because of the way the mechanics have worked on this TIF, it now will be interpreted, unfortunately, as a tax increase," White said after the meeting, "when it's really just a correction of the mil rate."

School and county officials have had ongoing discussions about whether accounting rules for TIF districts have been correctly applied, and if not, how to rectify the errors.

RIVERVIEW LOTTERY

The Riverview Charter School enrollment lottery for the next school year, conducted June 16, has brought the school closer to, but not in compliance with, targets for racial makeup.

Under guidelines set by the federal Office for Civil Rights, more than 15.7 percent of students at the school should be black, and fewer than 63.7 percent should be white.

Riverview will meet the first target, but might not meet the second.

A total of 342 students are slated to enroll next year: 58 or 17 percent, are black.

However, 226, or 66 percent, are white.

Jackie Rosswurm, the district's human resources chief who serves as a liaison between the district and Riverview, said if any students withdraw over the summer, replacing them with students on the waiting list could improve the numbers.

Federal funding -- or even the school's charter -- could be at stake if targets are not met.

Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.

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