Queries derail budget approval

The Early Learning Coalition's board asks about $900,000.

Published August 18, 2006

SPRING HILL - It was the huge discrepancy in the budget's bottom line that caught his eye.

"What happened to $900,000?" board member David Meglay asked the group, after realizing the total expenses were far less than incoming funds.

Others at the Thursday morning meeting of the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando counties had questions of their own about parts of the $26-million budget they were scheduled to approve. Much of the coalition's funding comes from the state.

Didn't Pasco County's funding drop by $100,000, and did Hernando County's funding increase by the same amount?

"Why was it split and changed from last year?" board member Dave Marshall asked.

Coalition staff members said the approximately $900,000 was due to "unallocated" funds, but the money had not been lost or forgotten.

In the midst of so many questions, the coalition's board decided not to adopt the budget, opting to send it back to the staff for more work instead.

The agency's budget became a sore point for the coalition after a decision last year to deny about $300,000 to a Pasco County schools program for low-income children. In June, coalition staff members realized they had about the same amount of money left in their coffers and needed to spend it in only a few weeks.

Coalition staff members said they would review the budget before the next board meeting, scheduled for October.

Mary Spicuzza covers education in Pasco County. She can be reached at 813 909-4614 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4614. Her e-mail address is mspicuzza@sptimes.com.