School board eyes millage rate rollback for FY 2019

By Linton Johnsonlinton@wsgcradio.com

The Elbert County School District’s lowest tax millage rate in at least five years is now under consideration by the Board of Education, following the release of the new tax digest for fiscal year 2019.
During a called meeting Tuesday, board members were in agreement with a recommended rollback from the current 16.942 mills to 15.87 mills, which is lower than any rate listed in the five-year history of tax levies, provided by the school district’s Finance Officer Keith Martin.
Board Chairman Ben Baker asked Martin and Superintendent Chuck Bell if the school district is in position to withstand a potential revenue loss of up to $240,000 if currently pending property tax appeals totaling $11.5 million are successful. Both responded affirmatively.
Bell said, “The school district, as we all know, is very stable financially. We have a healthy fund balance, and if you look at us compared to many school districts our size, it’s in very good shape. I think that anybody, when you see a rollback that is over a mill, you have to look at it hard, because it’s going to cost more in the coming year to run the school district than it did last year. I have full confidence that if there’s any shortfall in FY19, we can absolutely handle it based upon our current condition.”
Even with the millage rate rollback, the school district’s share of Elbert County property tax revenues is expected to increase to nearly $8.52 million in the new fiscal year, which is within $30,000 of the budgeted amount, Martin said.
Formal action on the school district’s millage rate cannot be taken until seven days after the digest has been advertised in the county’s legal organ, whose next weekly publication date is September 12. The board voted to move its next regular meeting from September 17 until Thursday, September 20, at which time it will consider approving the reduced millage rate.
Chairman Baker cautioned the millage rollback is being considered for this fiscal year only and other factors, including the outcome of the appeals, could lead to a different action next year. “My opinion is if we do the full rollback, with the public knowing that if we have significant shortfalls after the appeals, then we’ll have to look at bringing that back up closer to where it was.”

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