Since 1968, Wayne County has shared its sales tax revenue with its school districts. That amount was capped in 1992, at $5.4 million.
Now, county supervisors are considering taking that money back.
School leaders, who came together with some in the business community Thursday to speak out against the issue before a Finance Committee meeting Friday, say the loss would be devastating.
"School districts may be forced to make extensive cuts in non-mandated programs including but not limited to athletics, music, art, student councils, advanced placement classes and vocational education," said Red Creek Schools superintendent David Sholes.
County leaders have said they too face budget issues, having laid off workers and worrying they'll have to raise taxes.
School leaders say they've also made the cuts, and this move will still lead to a tax increase.
"We're all in difficult budget times, but why make it more difficult on the schools and take away this money and shift it to property taxes or hurt non-mandated programs? The county has a budget in place. They're under the tax cap. The public does not vote on county's budget. The public votes on ours," said Sholes.
Wayne County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Hoffman told YNN via email he thinks this is an important issue and one he wants to comment fully on at an upcoming meeting. He did address one thing brought up by leaders at Thursday's meeting – that there has been very little open debate about this issue.
Hoffman said the issue was discussed on Dec. 3 and:
"tomorrow is a committee meeting. Although in public, the format does not allow for public comment. If there is a Resolution at the board meeting next Tuesday, public comment is allowed. There is no format that allows for a 'debate' of an issue."
School leaders said the county wants this money, but has no specific plans for its use, and they're hoping this will be a two-way conversation.
"The fact that we have been cut to the bone by State Ed for the last eight years - continually having our funding reduced, reduced, reduced and then small amounts given back with a promise and headline saying, 'I'm a supporter of education.' Meanwhile, we're being cut every single step of the way, and for the supervisors of Wayne County to be in collusion with that sort of strategy, I think is inexcusable," said Michael Collins, Williamson Central School District BOE president.
The Finance Committee meets 9 a.m. Friday in Lyons. A full board meeting is at 9 a.m. next Tuesday.