The joint board of education meeting between Floyd County Schools, Rome City Schools and state legislators on Dec. 18 brought out several issues, as previously reported, as well as the issue of transparency from the Department of Treasury regarding ELOST funds.
The question of transparency was brought up by Chip Hood, chairman of the Floyd County Schools BOE, who said he would like to see a breakdown of incoming funds instead of just receiving a lump sum.
As an example, he used the 2017 Wings over North Georgia Air Show, which reportedly created a large economic impact due to the appearance of the Blue Angels. However, Hood said the following month’s tax revenue given to the schools was the lowest it had been in 18 months.
“We always hear that the air show is the biggest thing we have going in the community with a $5 million — $6 million impact,” he said.
Sheree Shore, director of finance for the City of Rome, said via telephone Wednesday, the way the tax revenue is sent to the state and how it is issued is done without any detail. If there is an increase in the tax funds received by the State Department of Treasury, it gets shared between all school systems as well as the city and county government, however there is no way to know what caused the increase.
“Still not a lot of transparency on how the process works,” she said, adding that if there was an economic increase it should be seen by everyone in the school systems and government.
Not knowing what causes these increases or decreases was a concern Hood brought before legislators at the Dec. 18 meeting. If the school systems received a breakdown of what causes these increases they could plan their expenses accordingly, as well as lobby to bring more events to the area due to their economic impact, Hood said. He added he will be focusing on this issue as it is something that impacts not only the school systems, but the city and county governments as well.
Jeff Wilson, superintendent for Floyd County Schools, told legislators during the meeting the school system would like to see more transparency on the part of the state government, as the school system is required to post all of its financial data publicly. He said FCS posts every credit card transaction they make as required by law, but there is no accountability they can see with how the tax dollars are distributed. Faith Collins, chair of the Rome City Schools BOE, supported Hood’s statements during the joint meeting, saying there should definitely be more transparency in why the schools receive what they receive.
Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, responded to these concerns. Dempsey said the revenue from the state fluctuates and sometimes it is what it is. Lumsden added this is an issue that needs to be worked out through the Department of Revenue, however he would like to be at the table when these discussions take place.