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Board of education talks about millage
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With the budget for the next fiscal year set, the Dawson County Board of Education has set its sights on the school system's millage rate.

Keeping with the uptrend in economic figures, the board has decided to keep the millage rate at 17.246 mills for 2015.

"There is no change in the millage rate for this year. We are remaining constant," said Finance Director Jamie Ulrich. "Because of the requirements of the law and the fact that the digest did go up, we are required to ... hold these meetings."

Last year, the board voted to increase the millage rate by 1.7 mills to 17.246 mills.

The system's funding is determined by a millage rate, part of a formula used to calculate property taxes, where one mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

"We are finally getting just over $1 million per mill now," said Superintendent Damon Gibbs. "While we still aren't back to the 2008 numbers, which were at $1.4 million per mill, the digest is showing that it is at least steadying out."

According to board members, one of the issues with the millage rate is the state's Quality Basic Education Funding, or QBE, program.

The program automatically takes 5 mills from the board's tax revenue and redistributes the funds to other school systems in the state.

The formula has not been updated since it was introduced in 1985.

"If your property did not receive a reassessment, then your taxes will not go up," Ulrich said. "They will stay exactly the same because we are not raising the millage."

However, according to Ulrich, numbers from the tax accessor's office show that homes valued around $175,000 will pay an extra $100 in taxes while homes valued at $200,000, the county's average home value, will pay an extra $115 in taxes.

The board set the budget for the upcoming fiscal year at $33.9 million during its June 9 meeting.

With the increase in incoming funds and breaks from the state, the board will be able to return items shed over the past five years, and include a 1 percent increase to the local supplement teachers receive.

Furlough days of the past five years have been eliminated and benefit payments for health insurance and additional staff for schools were added.

Public hearings to discuss the educational millage rate are set for 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. July 7 at the central office on Main Street in downtown Dawsonville.