During the Aug. 2 meeting of the Dawson County Board of Education, the board held the first of three public hearings regarding its proposed millage rate of 14.2.
In a millage presentation preceding the public hearing, Finance Director Beth Covington explained that the proposed millage rate is lower than last year’s adopted rate and higher than the rollback rate, or the rate computed using the current tax digest to produce the same total revenue that last year’s millage would have produced had no reassessments occurred.
“When we set the budget back in May, we looked at what it would take for us to get through December to cover our salaries and start school until our local tax revenues can start coming in, and what would allow the district some cushion for growth which we are seeing on a daily basis,” Covington said. “As a result of the factors that I mentioned before with the increased costs and such that we considered during our planning for the budget and the budget that was adopted by the Board of Education, it does require a millage rate that was higher than the rollback rate.”
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The school system’s current millage rate adopted by the board last year is 15 mills. The rollback rate based on the current tax digest is 13.305, so the proposed rate of 14.2 is 6.69 percent over the rollback rate.
For taxpayers, this means that the taxes levied against a property will be lower under the new rate than under last year’s rate, but higher than if the board had proposed adopting the rollback rate.
Covington explained that for a house valued at $375,000, which is the average value of a home in Dawson County, the current rate of 15 mills would levy $2,250 in taxes per year. A rate of 14.2 would levy $2,130 per year, and the rollback rate of 13.305 would levy $1,996 per year.
“The difference between the current millage of 15 and 14.2 would lower the homeowner taxes by $120, or $10 a month, and then the difference between the current millage of 15 and going back to the rollback rate would lower taxes by $254 a year, or $21 a month,” Covington said. “So the cost to taxpayers of going with 14.2 over 13.305 is about $11 per month of additional taxes.”
Covington also provided information during the millage presentation about previous years’ rates and about rates of neighboring counties.
In 2014, the Dawson County Board of Education adopted a millage rate of 17.246. From then until now, the rate has gone down each year, a trend that will continue this year with the adoption of a rate of 14.2 as compared to last year’s rate of 15.
Compared to other surrounding counties’ rates, Dawson’s millage rate comes in near the middle. Comparing the current rates that were adopted last year, Dawson’s rate of 15 was lower than those of Cherokee (18.2 mills), Forsyth (17.5 mills), Hall (16.485 mills) and Lumpkin (15.56 mills), and higher than those of Pickens (14.3 mills), Gilmer (12.624 mills) and Fannin (10.159 mills).
No community members spoke during the public hearing.
Next, the board will hold two more public hearings about the millage rate before voting to adopt the rate of 14.2. The next public hearing will be on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 8 a.m., followed by the third public hearing on Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. and the vote to adopt the new rate immediately after the third hearing.