School Board Revises Request for Tax Increase

July 13, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education has updated it's proposed school budget again and now seeks a property tax increase of almost eleven cents.

During another workshop and special meeting Tuesday night, the school board was forced to revise it's budget again after discovering that a line item adjustment was unnoted in the action taken during Monday night's workshop and special meeting.

Board members Monday night left the impression that they had cut the original request for a tax increase down to six and a half cents. But by Tuesday, they discovered the oversight in the calculations and had to schedule another special meeting for Tuesday night to correct it, before the spending plan was re-submitted to the county budget committee. After plugging in the numbers that were inadvertently unnoted, they discovered that the actual property tax hike needed to fund this budget is now 10.96 cents, not six and a half cents.

In it's original request when the tentative school budget was adopted in May, the board of education sought a seventeen cent increase in the property tax rate. But since then reappraisal has been completed and the amount of local money generated by each one cent on the property tax rate has been revised. So the board's initial seventeen cent increase is now closer to sixteen cents.

If no change is made in the tax rate, the new certified rate to fund schools is expected to be 52 cents or $2-million 204-thousand 260, which is sixteen cents less than what the school board is requesting to support schools for the coming year, with all the new positions and pay raises the board wishes to fund.

Members of the county budget committee have previously voted to fund the pay raises, which would be about a five cent tax increase for schools, but not other extras in the proposed school budget. Last week, County Mayor Mike Foster asked Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and the school board to find places to make cuts in their budget.

The school board met Monday and Tuesday night for that purpose. But while the board has trimmed it's request for a property tax hike of sixteen cents by five pennies or $211,948, down to around eleven cents, they are seeking new money from the local option sales tax or sinking fund in the amount of $169,560, and though that is not property tax money, it is the equivalent of four cents. That puts the overall request for new funding at the equivalent of fifteen cents, just one cent or $42,388 below the board's original request of sixteen cents.

The school budget now projects total revenues at $19-million 444-thousand 014 and total expenditures of $19-million 932-thousand 993, a difference of $488-thousand 979 which means in order balance the budget, an actual tax increase of 11.54 cents would be needed.

After meeting in special session Tuesday night, Director of Schools Willoughby hand delivered a copy of the new proposed school budget to County Mayor Foster and members of the budget committee who were meeting at the courthouse. Foster said no action would be taken on the budget until he and members of the committee had more time to review it.

The budget committee is expected to make its final recommendations on all county budgets Thursday night during a meeting at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse. The new budgets and tax rate will then be published as a legal notice in the newspaper and presented to the county commission for final approval at a meeting in early August.

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