The Dawson County Board of Education voted to maintain the current millage rate at 15.778 mills during its third and final hearing Monday night.
After considering a slight rollback in the millage rate to 15.500 mills at the second hearing Aug. 13, the board decided to maintain the current millage due to the rapid growth the school system has seen.
As of the first day of school Aug. 2, the school system saw a five percent growth in enrollment.
During Monday night's hearing, Superintendent Damon Gibbs said enrollment numbers are now up by 6.25 percent with approximately 200 new students. Maintaining a millage rate of 15.778 mills would allow the board to collect in anticipation of the rapid growth.
The 15.778 millage rate will collect $21.3 million in local revenue for the school system, an increase of $518,000 from the board's initial projection of a 10 percent increase in the tax digest.
The ending fund balance for the school system will be approximately $5.2 million, or roughly 12 percent of the operating costs, which is within the range the board would like to be, Gibbs said at the Aug. 7 hearing.
Based on the 12.69 percent increase in the tax digest, a 2.69 percent increase above the board's initial projection, board member Will Wade had asked the board to consider a small rollback.
"I don’t think we should collect more than we need and when we have an opportunity to give a little back especially when we’re in an economy where tax values have gone up we just need to consider it," Wade said Aug. 7.
Financial Director Jamie Ulrich took Wade's comments into consideration at the Aug. 13 hearing and amended the millage rate presentation to include the numbers for a 15.500 millage rate, which amounted to a $375,861 loss in local revenue.
Brooke Anderson, general manager of the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, was the only citizen to speak at the second hearing and urged the board to leave the current millage rate, citing Dawson County's rapid growth as an important factor.
“Your current growth is five percent. I can tell you the homes being built in this community are exploding. You’re not going to end with five percent. You’re going to end with something higher,” Anderson said at the hearing. “If you come up short the kids are going to lose, not you.”
The board voted 3-1 to approve the millage rate of 15.778 mills, which has been the millage rate since 2016. Wade was opposed.
Chairman Karen Armstrong was not present for the vote.