High utility costs seem to be having a substantial impact on the Elbert County School System.
During the Board of Education’s work session yesterday, Chief Financial Officer Ben Childs said 64 percent of the utility budget has already been used up year-to-date.
“Typically we would have seen through February, even given the cold weather we have seen so far, we would only see about 50-55 percent of the budget used because of the lag of energy costs”, explained Childs. “Because of where we are, we are looking at probably having energy costs exceed the budget.”
In fiscal year 2014, an amount of $812,000 was set aside to cover the cost of utilities, which is $57,000 more than fiscal year 2013’s utility budget.
Even with the higher costs factored in, Childs said as it stands now; the school system is looking to exceed this year’s utility budget by about roughly $60,000.
Elbert County School Superintendent Chuck Bell said efficiency is key in terms of hoping to avoid going over budget.
“So that we can look closely at what we are spending, as we are budgeting over $800,000 a year for these utility costs”, said Bell. “It’s really important we maximize and be as efficient as we can, so we are working on a couple of things and one of those is to closely monitor this particular budget.”
When asked what a majority of the costs have been so far, Childs said the increase in natural gas prices have really been the driving force behind the increased utility costs.