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Finance Director
Discusses Deficit, Levy
by Gary Knight

Updated on Wednesday*:

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“When I took the job, there was some disorganization. I’m not sure everyone knew where things stood. In any government agency, deficits increase from year to year. In business, you can just write it off at the end of the year, but here it accrues from year to year; it is cumulative,” said Calhoun County Schools finance director Dan Minney in a Friday interview with the Chronicle.

Minney, who earned degrees in both business management and accounting from Glenville State College in 1988 and 1996, respectively, assumed his current post with the school system in February, 2013.

Prior to coming to Calhoun, Minney served as plant manager for Flying W Plastics, Glenville, 1986-1996; project manager on construction of the Lignetics wood processing center in Stouts Mills, 1996-1997; cost accountant and project manager for Lang Brothers of Bridgeport, 1998 until 2008; state auditor’s office from 2008 until coming to Calhoun in 2013. He was part of the team that audited the Calhoun school system in 2008.

“We went back to see what things looked like, and clearly there was a downward trend,” he said in discussing attempts to determine precisely how and when the school system’s finances began to fall into a deficit.

Minney outlined difficulties in comparing and contrasting past and present school accounting systems and results. He said that the school financial director’s position has “evolved” from 2005 until the present: “From the late ’90s until present, it went from a cash system to a ‘modified accrual’ basis of accounting and, from there, to a ‘full accrual’ system.

“This makes it difficult to make comparisons between now and anything prior to or since 2007. The basis of accounting then was significantly different.”

Minney explained that levy funds, which cannot be directly applied toward reducing the deficit, must be dispensed as the levy call directs. State auditors will insure that terms of the levy are adhered to.

According to Minney, the levy funds:

--Will provide more than $722,000 per year over a period of five years.

--May not be directly applied to deficit reduction.

--Must be spent in accordance with the levy call.

--Will pay utilities and other routine operating expenses.

--Will free up state appropriated funds so they may be applied to deficit reduction.

--Must be spent in entirety every year.

--Are not to be used to save up money.

--Will reinstate some lost position days, although Minney said it is likely that some need to be looked at, inasmuch as they did not merit the number of days in their contracts.

--Provide some latitude to do things that need done.

Projections have it that, with the levy in place, the deficit could be purged within a five-year period. Although he did not disagree, Minney said that there are no guarantees: “About the time to ask for a renewal, things should be in pretty good shape. The levy will not pay off the deficit; it will free up other funds that may be applied to the deficit.”

“Management needs to insure that the money is spent wisely,” said Minney. “It needs to be monitored. We want to be careful that we don’t just turn around here and spend the monies that are freed up.”

“We must remain cognizant of what we are spending and what we are doing, being frugal and aware,” added Minney.

He said that the school board currently has only one other levy, the county library levy, which calls for .4 cent per $100 and expires June 30, 2017. The county library receives $28- $30,000 per year from the levy that was run under the board of education umbrella because the board requires only a 51% simple majority, whereas other levies require 61%: “We receive a check from the sheriff and we pass it on to the library.”

“Passing a levy can bring the community into the [education] process,” said Minney. “Fully understanding the levy and seeing the three areas in which the money can be spent enables voters to make a more informed decision.”

Minney suggested that passing the levy should provide voters and taxpayers with larger opportunities for project suggestions and a heightened voice for input into how money is to be appropriated.

He expressed his disappointment that, during the last levy attempt, there was no significant attendance at three public meetings, one at each of the three county schools: “This was bad, because people need to become informed and make informed decisions when voting. People need to know how we arrived here over time, and let them make up their own minds with full understanding.”

Calhoun County Schools will host a community forum to discuss the excess levy proposal on Monday, Oct. 20, in the Calhoun Middle/High School auditorium.

Early voting begins Wednesday, Oct. 22, with election day on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

A life-long resident of Gilmer County, Minney has four children and three grandchildren.

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