Two Picayune School Board members vote against pay, millage increases

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

Two matters failed due to opposition of tax increases by two members of the Picayune Separate Municipal School District’s Board of Trustees.
Those matters dealt with pay increases to administrators and supervisors in the district to match the state mandated step increases teachers receive. District Finance Director Lisa Persick said the matter would have provided pay raises to 21 administrators district-wide, which includes principals, assistant principals, the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and administrative staff in the district office. All told, those pay increases to administrators would have increased the budget by $15,863.
The matter also dealt with pay increases to 9 people in supervisory roles in the district, including those working in maintenance, food service, technology, transportation and nursing. Those raises would have totaled $10,469, Persick said.
Board members Frank Feeley and Frank Ford voted against the pay raises, while Edward Stubbs and Lori Blackmer voted for them.
The second issue on the table voted down by Feeley and Ford entailed requesting more in millage, or ad valorem taxes. Persick said the request was to conform with state mandates that the district provide 28 mills worth of funding to retire debts associated with district construction projects. She said the increase would have equaled about $35,000.
Feeley said he voted against the matters because he did not agree with raising taxes when the district is already spending more than it is bringing in, as outlined in Wednesday’s budget hearing story. Additionally, Feeley said that raises should be awarded based on performance, instead of the fact that a certain period of time has elapsed. The way the agenda item was presented, the raises were to be awarded to all of those on the list previously outlined by Persick. Feeley said he feels the district needs to cut back on their expenses.
As for the millage increase, Feeley said that even if the Board had passed the agenda item, the extra funds would not have been enough to cover the shortfall outlined in the budget hearing Tuesday night.
Ford agreed with Feeley in that it’s not a good time to increase expenses because he is not a proponent of increasing taxes.
“It’s time to tighten our belts. I think we can do more with less,” Ford said.

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