Comparing the budget transparency of the school district versus Beaufort County on the web

This is my budget study week. Wow, what a contrast discovered between the Beaufort County School District website versus that of Beaufort County.

First, the Beaufort school district website: It includes a summary by department then a detailed schedule of each department spending comparing the proposed 2014 budget to the forecast spending for 2013, plus actual spending for three additional prior years.  Revenue budgets were compared to previous years.  The website included an excellent 30 page budget presentation made to the Beaufort County Council.  A job well done.  In the corporate world, this would meet the standard.

Then look at Beaufort County’s budget on the web.  I pulled up “Finance” and clicked on the “2014 budget”.  What did I get? Absolutely nothing!  Where is the County Council and its Finance Committee? What are they doing? In the corporate world this would get someone fired. Council members get paid for up to 144 meetings a year.  Why don’t they set policy and demand proper transparency?

The big joke is on citizen taxpayers. The County Council approves school finance and, in previous years, demanded more school data while receiving little for their own budget. The County Council has oversight of the school budget under present law, and needs a strong citizen committee overseeing  county budgets.

County library hours have been drastically reduced by budget cuts of 25% in 2013  compared to 2008.  Yet county has  underspent this reduced budget by over $350,000 in 2012 and looks like another $370,000 for 2013.  Where did the money go?  Whose policy is this? Administration? Council? Both? Nobody?

Jim Bequette, Lady’s Island

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