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Hearings announced on millage rate increase
Hike to offset school districts deficit
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The Dawson County Board of Education has scheduled several public hearings this month on a proposed tax hike.

The school board recently announced its intention to raise property taxes by 3.25 percent over the rollback millage rate to help offset a projected $300,000 budget deficit for the coming year.

School Superintendent Keith Porter said the continued loss of state funding, coupled with a lower tax digest, has left the board with no other options.

A tax exemption for seniors, which voters approved in November, further reduced funding for the system, according to the school board.

"We're trying to really cut our expenses to make our budget work," he said.

School officials began bracing for the drop in tax revenue months ago by trimming their budgets.

Cuts have included fewer teacher, staff and student days, as well as reductions in employee and retirement benefits.

The proposal calls for an increase of 1.9 mills.

A mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. Assessed value is 40 percent of actual market value.

Porter told the board last week that the owner of a $200,000 home would see his annual property taxes rise about $80 if the measure is approved.

The school board has not raised the millage rate, which stands at 13.464 mills for maintenance and operations and .4 mills for bonds, in nine years.

The budget is tentatively projected at $36.1 million, which is about $1.1 million less than 2011.

Georgia law requires three public hearings before a millage rate increase can be adopted.

The hearings are set for 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. July 14. The board plans to vote on the measure following the final hearing, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. July 21.

All three hearings will take place at the Dawson County Board of Education Central Office, 517 Allen St. in Dawsonville.