Pelham OKs city school system budget mockup

The Pelham City Council agreed to hire a firm to prepare a mock budget for the proposed Pelham city school system. (File)

The Pelham City Council agreed to hire a firm to prepare a mock budget for the proposed Pelham city school system. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council voted 4-1 during a July 25 special-called meeting to pay a firm up to $10,000 to provide a forward-looking budget for the city’s proposed school system.

Council members Karyl Rice, Ron Scott, Beth McMillan and Council President Rick Hayes voted in favor of the motion, while Councilman Maurice Mercer voted against.

Through the agreement, the city will pay the Birmingham-based Carr, Riggs and Ingram accounting firm up to $10,000 to prepare a “pro-forma” budget for the proposed school system.

“Pro-forma is actually an accounting phrase meaning forward-looking,” said Council President Rick Hayes.

Through the agreement, Carr, Riggs and Ingram will use its “experience with many other school systems to make budget assumptions and projections related to the potential Pelham city school system.”

The company plans to start preparing the pro-forma budget on July 29, according to the agreement.

Hayes said Carr, Riggs and Ingram will use projected revenue incomes from the state, local taxes and county taxes – all of which would come to a Pelham school system if the city breaks away from the Shelby County School System – to prepare the budget.

Hayes and others who voted in favor of the motion said the pro-forma budget will give city leaders a comprehensive overview of the financial situation a Pelham school system would be in, should the city decide to break away form the Shelby County School System.

“It basically allows us another level of due diligence,” Hayes said, noting the budget likely will look about a year into the future. “This will give us a higher level of accuracy and a higher level of confidence as we consider this.”

Mercer said he “could not support” the motion, and said he would like to see the city request in writing the Shelby County School System’s expenditure list in Pelham schools. Mercer also said he would like Pelham leaders to outline its objectives and “end goal” for forming a city school system.

“Let’s slow down. Let’s give the residents a detailed list of what we would like to accomplish with this,” Mercer said. “I believe this is vital, but I don’t believe it’s timely.”

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said he believed the pro-forma budget has “got to be done in the name of due diligence,” but called the city’s agreement with Carr, Riggs and Ingram “overpriced.”

Carr, Riggs and Ingram approached the city to offer its services after recently constructing a similar forward-looking budget for Gardendale. Gardendale voted in mid-July to form a city school system.

The firm also provides auditing services for school systems in Vestavia, Homewood, Cullman and others, Hayes said.