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Lower taxes for residents, higher pay for teachers
5NMA Screen shot 2015 07 28 at 1.35.33 PM

The Dawson County Board of Education on Monday lowered its millage rate and earlier raised its teachers salaries for fiscal year 2015-16.

It also expects a 1.6 percent increase in its tax revenues.

My recommendation to the board was a millage reduction of 0.75, Dawson County School Superintendent Damon Gibbs said. We will be adjusting the millage rate from 17.246 to 16.496.

The current value of a mill is $1.1 million for Dawson County schools.

Residents can expect a 4.35 percent decrease in their property taxes.

On a home valued at $225,000, the reduction means paying $67 less than last years property tax bill.

Separately, both certified and classified school system employees can expect a 2-percent increase for fiscal year 2015-16.

The board will restore its 403(b) retirement contribution to 5 percent a one percent increase and will possibly add eight new staff members.

Chief Human Resources Director, Lisa Perry, said the positions are being held in reserve.

in case class sizes change with enrollments of new students to point of needing to add teachers, she said.

Additionally, plans call for a step increase for employees who have served 23 or more years.

It also plans to continue on a full 180-day schedule for students, with no furlough days for teachers.

The school system expects $895,000 in austerity cuts, down from a high of $2.5 million in 2010.

The states austerity program is a formula used to fund a quality basic education for all students.

So they take from the rich and they give to those that are not and they consider Dawson County a land-rich county, Gibbs said. Its a staggering amount of money, almost $17 million dollars since fiscal year 03

Of 180 state school districts, Dawson County ranked 11th as a land rich county. Forty-six counties are hit with austerity cuts while 133 counties benefit, according to figures from a 2013 school board handout.

Dawson County schools, however, are a Title 1 district, meaning more than 50 percent of its students receive free or reduced priced meals.

Additionally, the Dawson County tax commissioner takes, by law, 2.5 percent or $433,000 of the schools budget for collecting and distributing tax monies. State lawmakers increased that amount from 1.75 percent in 2013.

Last year, Gov. Nathan Deal promised to send $315 million to schools across the state. Dawson schools received a reduction in its austerity cuts totaling approximately $500,000, according to Finance Director Jamie Ulrich.