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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

The Budget & Finance Committee gave unanimous approval to a budget deal between the county and schools during a special called meeting Monday evening.

The agreement calls for the county to pay for a new roof at Jim Satterfield Middle School, with the School Board to make the first payment. In return, the school system will receive no new funding in the FY20 or FY21 budgets.

Under the agreement, there will be no increase in property taxes for the FY20 budget. The tax rates were set at $2.4388 for county and $0.8753 for the Urban Services District.

The deal was hammered out in discussions between Director of Schools Clint Satterfield, Commission Chairman Jerry Ford and other members of the County Commission.

“I think it’s a win-win. A good compromise is when neither party’s really happy,” said School Board Chairman Regina Waller. “Everyone gave a little and I’m very pleased.”

The School Board approved the plan at a called meeting on Aug. 1 and the full Commission will vote on the budget at a called meeting on Monday, Aug. 19. Should it pass, a second called meeting will be held on Aug. 20 for a public hearing and second vote.

Commissioners pointed out that funding the roof will not count under maintenance of effort, or the amount the county is required to pay toward school funding each year.

The school system previously received a quote of $830,000 for replacing the roof at JSMS. The project must go out for bid and work is unlikely to take place before next summer.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers said he planned to look into funding options to reduce the burden on county government, such as grants. If revenues come in better than anticipated, moving funds around to lower the county’s overall cost could also be an option.

“I’m glad we got something moved forward,” the mayor said. “I don’t think we’re locked into a bond issue. I’m certainly going to find any alternative I can before we get to that point.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.