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School Board Votes to Return $3M of Budget to County

The move came as a result of a request by the county executive.

The Harford County Board of Education unanimously voted Monday to return nearly $3 million of its fiscal year 2011 general fund to the county—less than half of what County Executive David Craig requested.

Craig had asked departments across Harford to return 3 percent of their funds, but the assistant superintendent of business services, James Jewell, said returning the full $6.24 million of the $214 million budget would subject the Board of Education to state penalties for not maintaining a “legally-mandated maintenance of effort.” The fine could exceed $7 million, he said.

The $3 million being returned will come from a one-time revenue for Medicare Part D reimbursement, utility savings of about $500,000, salary savings of about $200,000 and more than $1.4 million in health insurance savings due to plan changes and lower enrollment than was projected, Jewell said.

The money will be taken out of the June distribution of funds.

“At least it doesn’t affect the cash flow up until June,” Jewell said.

Board of Education President Mark Wolkow said it was a tough but sensible decision.

“Not always easy. Never easy to give money back, especially when we have so many needs throughout the system,” he said. “But the county is in a difficult financial situation right now and we’ve been asked to play a part in [relieving] that. … This becomes virtually a necessity.”

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