Residents show up to final SCCPSS budget hearing demanding accountability after $75 million error

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 11:20 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah Chatham County Public School Board passed next year’s budget with a vote of 7 to 2.

That didn’t come without residents demanding accountability and a deeper look into the district’s finances.

“That’s embarrassing, that’s truly embarrassing.”

“I like to know where the money gone. Ms. Levett, where’d the money go?”

“Ironically this line item increase...the single largest increase in the entire budget was in the category of quote data and accountability.”

Despite a packed room of people questioning the ethics behind the $75 million discrepancy, school board members said it was nothing more than just an error.

District 2 Board Member Dr. Dionne Hoskins Brown said, “I regret the clerical error. I appreciate what I understand was an internal audit that happened after the error that clarified where it came from and I reject that the error was indicative of corruption.”

“I don’t believe it was a $75 million error I think it was an error of transferring numbers,” said Dr. Joe Buck, the president of the school board.

The error was discovered in the Data & Accountability budget line item when it was supposed to be on the ESPLOST 3 funds line.

People who showed up said what happened was unacceptable.

“Tighten up these belts and check out this money man please.”

“If we have to take it to the feds we will do that. I promise you that.”

A couple board members said they don’t go line by line in the proposed budget.

“We get our preliminary budget and we don’t have enough time to go through it,” said District 7 Board Member Michael Johnson.

Since a lot of the money is going toward increasing staff pay, board members like Irene Hines stood by it.

“We made increases in the budget to try to bring the people at the bottom of the brim up to a higher level,” she said.

Dr. Buck said they have received threats and some board members have had their homes defaced. He says they are public servants they are there for the children.

“Not one of us...not a d**** one of us is corrupt and takes money out of the public,” he said.

The proposed millage also passed tonight with a vote of 6 to 3.

The millage was rolled back by 0.5 mills, but since property values went up so will many people’s taxes.

The board emphasized Wednesday night they are audited every year and the error had no impact on the budget or millage rate.

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