I regret that Chairman Janet Creager Alger of the Clarke County School Board wrote to me saying “no-thank-you” to offered input regarding $247,227 of left-over unspent money in last year’s school system budget. The quarter-million dollars was improperly subtracted from the Clarke County Public School’s accounting of existing leftover money in the proposed 2013 budget for the public schools now under consideration by the Board of Supervisors.
Small footnote print on Page 20 of the proposed schools budget shows the improper accounting of the $247,227, which ’fesses up to the way the quarter-million-dollar carryover money was improperly subtracted from the actual revenue total. This occurs on on pages 7, 8, and 20 of the 50-page budget document, so one has to hunt to find it and figure out what’s going on.
This is not chump change, because the average wage-earner works 10 years to make that amount of money before taxes.
The $247,227 has been in the school system’s bank accounts for who knows how long, and there is no earned interest shown by the school budget in its revenue statements.
Asterisks ** under a chart on Page 20 of 2013 budget document proposes that the $247,227 unspent money be applied as a share of a new financial management system called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) that is already used successfully by the City of Staunton and all its financial managers for more than 30 city departments, the public schools, police, courts, library, parks and recreation, tourist office, et cetera.
Staunton’s ERP system, produced by Tyler Technologies in Texas, integrates all the city’s financial management in one place and makes it easily accessible to financial managers throughout the city government and elected officials alike. I discussed this with Michael Bowen, Staunton’s ERP system manager in the city Information Technology Office, who said many similar systems are offered by computer software manufacturers and already used by federal, state, and community governments and school systems throughout the country.
Clarke County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Hobert should be commended for his lone stance among five elected supervisors to move Clarke County in this direction and take advantage of the surplus school money for a one-third down-payment for an ERP system before School Superintendent Michael Murphy and his people spend the money. County budget director Tom Judge says they have already used some of the surplus money for things they wanted. Hopefully the entire Board of Supervisors will rally round Chairman Hobert before Murphy and Company spend all the leftover surplus money, which technically they can spend as previously authorized funding.
Then Clarke County could issue Requests for Proposals for its own new county financial management ERP system as soon as possible following expected final next-year budget approval in April.