Jeff L. Thigpen Register of Deeds

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

News and Record article on "10 teaching positions" this morning.

I appreciate the article related to the need for additional teaching positons. Just a few comments reflecting on the piece. I'm entitling these comments "MAGIC and Math"

POOF: (Now you see $100,o00, now you don't!) Just a week ago there were several commissioners supported the allocation of over $100,000 for a school resource coordinator and vehicle which was not approved. Now, no one can find that the same money for teachers. Linda Shaw challenged me to find the money for the positions she found to fund an SRO coordinator. YOU DO THE MATH: Well, at $50,000 a piece, we have just funded two teacher positions with the SRO monies. I'd suggest 1 other position be paid for out of the county manager's contingency fund. 2+1=3. It is true that 3 is not 10 and more work must me done. But we are now 3 for 10. In baseball, that's a career!

Public, don't be fooled. Rule #1: With Guilford County commissioners, all things are possible with 6 votes. :)

6 Comments:

  • From: MWALLING@triad.rr.com [mailto:MWALLING@triad.rr.com]
    Sent: Wednesday, August 11, 2004 12:18 PM
    To: billyyow@bellsouth.net; Jeff Thigpen; IMLshaw@aol.com; Bob Landreth;
    jamestownvet@northstate.net; Skip Alston; Carolyn Coleman; Mike Barber;
    Mary Rakestraw; kidappeal@triadbiz.rr.com; Steve Arnold
    Cc: gbbe1@cs.com; mendens@guilford.k12.nc.us; dygarr@aol.com;
    alan.duncan@smithmoorelaw.com; sharpea@guilford.k12.nc.us;
    mcsykes6@aol.com; kcooke73@triad.rr.com; hayesd@guilford.k12.nc.us;
    johnnyh@aol.com; nrouth@bellsouth.net; dotkendall@aol.com;
    griert@guilford.k12.nc.us
    Subject: Transfer of County Funds for New Teaching Positions


    I would like to commend Commissioner Thigpen for being an advocate for the children and the teachers of Guilford County in trying to find $450,000 for 10 additional teaching positions. While this is a worthy effort I do have the following questions and comments about how this can be accomplished.

    First, how is it possible to reallocate $450,000 when the new Guilford County budget is not even 45 days old? It seems that any reallocation would either hinder the ability of other Guilford County agencies to complete their designated tasks for the current fiscal year, or highlight the fact that the budget was inflated in other areas to begin with, such as with possible pork barrel projects.

    If neither of these statements are true than either Guilford County would need to raise an additional $450,000 after tax rates have already been established for the current fiscal year or raid some type of a reserve fund. To me if there is an excess $450,000 laying around in the coffers of Guilford County has the question been raised of do the taxpayers of Guilford County merit some type of a rebate instead?

    Second, the Guilford County Board of Education has yet to announce if the Federal Grant application for the High Point Choice Plan has been approved. Until this announcement is made I believe it would not be prudent to consider the transfer any additional funds to the Guilford County School System. If the Federal Grant is not approved I believe there is a $4,000,000 hole in this year’s school budget, which would first need to be addressed. Assuming that the Federal Grant is not approved; the same $450,000 that Mr. Thigpen is talking about may be required to cover the shortfall for teachers already on the payroll within the High Point Choice Plan, not pay for 10 new teachers.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Walling
    High Point

    REPLY:I appreciate your note. Your first question is certainly valid. I'll answer that question with another. How could our board find another SRO coordinator position at a cost of $100,000 35 days after our budget was passed? The answer is 6. If a majority of our board will support it, we can find a way. For example, if we took the $100,000 some of my fellow commissioners proposed for the SRO and applied it to teaching positions that would give us 2 teaching positions. If we took $50,000 from our manager's contingency fund that would give us 3 positions. As you know 3 is not 10. But I'm batting .300 on my first day. As a baseball player, that's a pretty good start.

    On your second point, you may raise a valid point. Our next scheduled commissioner meeting is not until mid-September. I hope we will know the fate of the federal grant by that time. Wasn't the notification date 7/15?

    If you don't mind, I have a web blog and I'll post your query.

    By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 3:05 PM  

  • Jeff,

    Help me out if I'm wrong, but I don't think there is any magic here as to how all this budget sandbagged money gets found. I'm looking at the Consent Agenda items from the last commissioners meeting on August 5th:

    "INCREASE miscellaneous receipts $192,720, DECREASE County appropriations $98,190 to reflect anticipated receipts from the International Travel Program...

    INCREASE Federal receipts $93,266, DECREASE County appropriations $78,566 to reflect funding to be received from the state for the provisions of childhood immunizations"

    The way I read this is that either budget allocations have been willfully pumped to provide unencumbered play money or managers in these departments have no clue (doubtful) where their money is coming from until the last minute.

    Our Health Department people didn't know they had annual Federal money coming in from the State for childhood immunizations? I think not. They can slide if they simply underestimated the total largesse of our Federal Government this year, but then they still have to explain how the Travel Program "projections" were made pre and then re-made immediately post budget.

    By Blogger Jim Capo, at 10:23 AM  

  • You are right that my metaphor for magic is truly not magic at all. That was my point. I don't think money gets "sandbagged" so to speak, but I believe priorities change and if our Board amends our budget along the way, that is fair game if a majority of the Board agrees.

    On the two items you mentioned, these items have a context and actually "the way you read them" was incorrect. Let me give you the history. The International Travel services was originally taken out of our FY 05 budget entirely and it is fee driven. The Health Dept. believed these services were available in other parts of the medical community. They also realized through program evaluations that many Health Department service areas needed to be strengthened. The clinical staff working International Travel(for people who go to other countries who need shots) were thus moved to these other areas to improve our service provision to the community (without the addition of new positions). However, Dr. Krishnaraj decided, after conversations with our staff, Health Board members, members of the community, etc. that the County would greatly benefit from the reinstatement of the program. They then took it back to the Board of Health in July for their approval of program funding ($192,720-100% ALL CLIENT GENERATED fees!). There was no increase in funding and the projections were based on the prior year. (THAT IS THE REST OF THE STORY FOR THE ITEM.)

    Second,in these budget times few program allocations are "annual" and the state passes its budget when it passes it. July/Sept....whenever. They are subject to cuts and its hard to budget locally in general. Just ask the School system. But the Childhood Immunization program was a different issue. State grant funding was made available to us in July (after we adopted our budget) which allowed the Health Dept to return almost $80,000 in County funds to the Commissioners for other uses. We were simply shifting funding sources for this Program.

    I hope this is helpful information.
    Jeff

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:17 PM  

  • Jeff,

    Thanks. Yes, a helpful effort at trying to explain the inner workings of the sausage factory.

    Let's see if I got it: The $192,720 estimate came from the receipts/user fees that were collected in the previous year when the county was providing subsidized shots to needy people embarking for international travel. Some of these fees at least partially covered the cost of staff providing this service to the community. Redeploying this staff into non-fee generating activity was booked in the budget as a $98,190 budget liability. After discussions with staff which occurred apparently quite soon after the budget was fixed, it was determined that the staff could be re-re-deployed back into what they were doing originally the year before; this on the expectation that the receipts from needy international travelers for fees on health department services will again come in around $192,000---leaving $98,190 that can be put back into a pot somewhere.

    On the second item, "BINGO" on the annual budgets based on expected revenues from the current regime in Raleigh no longer being reliable. However, (and perhaps I am just a newbie that needs to be prepared to have my bubble burst) here was my logic on that item; "Shouldn't there be at least one federal law that protects counties from having funds earmarked for a federal child immunization program stolen from them by the state?" And of course if so, should not the county health department budgeters been able to bank on it?"

    BTW: Is the budgeting process in the Deeds office any easier than this?

    BTW2: A vast divide in political philosophies not withstanding, your willingness to be publicly accessible here for all the county to see has won you my vote in November.

    By Blogger Jim Capo, at 3:03 PM  

  • "your willingness to be publicly accessible here for all the county to see has won you my vote in November.".....here, here.......thanks for blogging........good leadership...........dk

    By Blogger Doug, at 11:50 AM  

  • Jim, maybe I should just connect you to the finance director in the Health Department! Hahaha. I'll try to respond in time. On the other comment, I'm sure there will be issues like this in the Deeds office!

    Jeff

    By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 7:35 AM  

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