Dorsey Responds to Bell Comments at Tuesday Meeting

Stephens County School Superintendent Bryan Dorsey responds to comments made by County Commissioner Dennis Bell during Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

On Tuesday as he voted against approving the school system’s millage rate, Bell again called for the school system to call in authorities to do what he referred to as a “forensic interview” to find out what happened regarding the school system’s finances.

Previously, Bell has told the school board he felt it should contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation regarding the matter.

Bell also said he wants to know why it is taking so long to get answers on what happened.

Dorsey said to this point, there is no evidence that any illegal activity took place.

“If there was a crime to report, we would absolutely be reporting one,” said Dorsey of calling the GBI. “As I have said before, there is no indicators of fraud or criminal activity. All we could report is that we do not have a crime to report.”

Meanwhile, Dorsey said that the school system continues to wait on the Fiscal Year 2013 audit report from state auditors.

That audit report could be complete soon, as Dorsey said state auditors indicated it would be ready at the end of this month.

Dorsey said that audit report, however, will not show a change in the deficit the school system was facing and had to resolve in a short period of time.

“I understand the frustration by Commissioner Bell and others,” said Dorsey, who added the situation is quite a challenge for everybody. “We certainly did not want to have to face the tax increases.”

He said that for every dollar in additional tax revenue, three dollars was cut from the FY 2015 budget.

“It certainly is a short period of time to be facing those challenges,” said Dorsey. “We would have liked to take a longer look, but unfortunately did not have the luxury of time in this particular situation.”

Facing a $1.3 million deficit in its fund balance and an expected shortfall in its Fiscal Year 2015 budget projections, the Board of Education approved a 1.6 mill increase last week in the school system’s millage rate, capping it out at the state maximum of 20 mills.

The system’s plan to recover the shortfall also includes a reduction of nine work days for school system staff in the 2014-2015 school year.