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Commission to vote on JMCSS budget Tuesday

Among the items on the agenda for the Madison County Commission’s monthly meeting Tuesday morning, the one with the biggest impact is the vote on the county budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

The budget committee has already voted to recommend to the Commission the approval of every department’s budget except one: Jackson-Madison County Schools.

The JMCSS Board initially approved its budget on June 5, and the budget committee rejected it two days later because of missing items in its expenditures like paying the County its annual Amaresco payment.

The week before those meetings on June 1, the County’s capital committee voted to recommend removal of $1.2 million from the education capital line in the budget to put money in the budget to fund school resource officers for every school in the district and two for each high school.

On May 31, the budget committee and JMCSS Superintendent Marlon King had an informal negotiation of the budget of what would and would not be approved once sent from the school board to the budget committee. The parties agreed on the County funding maintenance of effort for the school district at $48,035,000 and then adding the $1.2 million in education capital for the purpose of ensuring all teachers in the district had quality laptops to work on.

Commissioner Mike Taylor, a member of the capital committee who’d told King publicly in a previous budget hearing earlier in May that the County doesn’t have financial room to put any money in education capital, made the motion on June 1 to not put $1.2 million in education capital but to instead put it in the SRO budget, which is a separate budget from JMCSS’ budget or the Sheriff’s department budget.

Taylor’s motion passed in committee, resulting in the removal of the education capital money.

Last Thursday, June 15, the school board had their monthly meeting and approved their budget to resend to the county commission with the education capital money included, which won’t be heard by the budget committee but instead at Tuesday’s meeting of the full commission.

On Wednesday, June 14 in anticipation of the school board’s probable vote the following day to send the same budget it had 10 days earlier, the Republican caucus of the county commission met and discussed the budget under the assumption they would send MOE and education capital back to the commission for approval.

In a raised-hand poll of present commissioners, 15 hands went up saying they would vote to reject the budget if it came to them on Tuesday with the education capital as part of it.

After the poll, Commission Chairman Gary Deaton, wanted assurance from all of the present commissioners that they would indeed vote to reject the school budget. No one said they wouldn’t.

If this vote to reject were to pass on Tuesday, the Commission has until June 30 to officially ratify a budget. If that were to not happen, state law says the County would have to do a continuation of the current year’s budget up to as much as two months, meaning no raises for any county employees or other new expenditures would be paid for in those two months including the budgeted starting salaries for teachers from $42,000 to $46,000 and the $3 per hour increase for classified JMCSS employees.

The school board has called a special meeting for Thursday morning in anticipation of the rejection vote to revisit the budget and possibly send a revised budget back to the county commission before their June 30 meeting.

The Madison County Commission meeting is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center at 605 Airways Boulevard in Room 150.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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