The Dickson County Commission found a way to get the $800,000 debt payment it wants from the school system: just keep it. Under a provision of the Maintenance of Effort contract for education funding, the commission’s Budget Committee voted to divert that much tax money earmarked for schools into debt service. While the county commission cannot make changes within the school system’s budget proposal, Marty Spears of the County Technical Advisory Service told the committee Monday night the county can designate how local property and sales tax funds are allocated under the MOE, which is a contract that provides the school system’s funding cannot be reduced. The committee voted to approve the school system’s $62 million budget, including allocating just under $19 million in local tax revenue, but will withhold $799,400 that will be designated for debt service in the MOE report. The money still counts toward meeting the MOE requirement, but essentially forces the school board to find a way to cut $800,000 in expenses, dig that much deeper into its reserves or a combination of both. The school board had voted to stop making an annual $1 million debt payment under a 1998 agreement despite Mayor Bob Rial’s proposal to reduce the amount over a three-year period. Rial repeated his commitment to reduce the payment by $267,300 this year, double that next year and totally eliminate the payment the year after that. The mayor said by reducing the debt payment the school system gets to keep $267,000 more of its funding than it did last year and the county gets to keep the debt service payment it had planned on receiving. If approved by the full county commission at its July 15 meeting, the 2013-14 budget will leave the school system $800,000 short of what it was expecting.