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School Board Will Advertise for Millage Increase

The Forsyth County Board of Education voted Thursday to advertise for a one-mill increase in the bond millage rate and a 1.185 increase in the maintenance and operations millage rate to help balance the FY 2012 budget.

In a called meeting Thursday, the Forsyth County Board of Education voted to advertise for a millage increase in both the bond and maintenance and operations rates for Fiscal Year 2012.

Local governments are required to advertise a proposed millage increase at least two weeks in advance of setting the millage rates.

Board members voted to advertise for a one mill increase in the bond rate to 2.48 mills and a 1.185 mill increase in the maintenance and operations rate to a rollback rate of 16.58 mills. A rollback rate is a rate that will generate the same revenue as the previous year had the digest not declined.

Chief Financial Officer Dan Jones presented a five-year history of the school system's finances. He began by saying, "the bottom line is we're $11.4 million in the hole."

The board approved a $263 million budget earlier this month. School officials drew $6.5 million from a federal education grant. "But that still leaves about $5 million that we have to decide how we're going to cover that amount," Jones said.

The proposed rate increase comes three months after voters approved a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for education.

Opponents of a millage increase have said they were mislead by school officials who, while promoting the SPLOST, implied that if the SPLOST did not pass, taxes would have to be raised.

Board member Nancy Roche said, "There is a misconception out there that either you have a SPLOST or you have a tax increase. Whereas, it's really a combination. We don't have a choice. We have to up that (millage rate). We don't control the economy."

After the meeting, board member Ann Crowe acknowledged the miscommunication.

"But it wasn't intentional at all," she said. "We apologize for the miscommunication. I don't think the staff meant it that way."

Superintendent Buster Evans pointed out that advertising the millage rate increase is just the beginning of the process. "This is the starting line," he said.

The board has until Aug. 1 to hold public hearings and approve a final millage rate.

Hal Schneider June 26, 2011 at 03:36 AM
Didn't the Board is essence promise not to increase property taxes if the public voted in favor of the latest SPLOST? So much for the credibility of the School Board! How about trimming $11M from the spending budget? I know it's a radical idea, but it's exactly what we have to do in our personal budgets when we don't have enough income to cover our expenses. When will the School Board start acting like responsible adults?
Bill June 26, 2011 at 11:43 AM
Hal, Your observation is spot on. Clearly, the school board presented voters with an either/or option. Either pass the education SPLOST or we will be forced to raise your taxes. As we now see, they will raise taxes anyway. Nancy Roche said there was a misconception on the part of the public. With all due respect, Ms. Roche couldn't be more wrong. There was no misconception. There was miscommunication on the part of school officials. No amount of spin is going to change that. The damage has been done. Credibility lost. And, still no school official has had the courage to step forward and take responsibility.
Neil Stapley July 17, 2011 at 03:29 PM
If there is $11M of waste in the budget then yes it should be cut, but if cutting the $11m means more school programes will be cut, teachers loosing their jobs and our students getting a second rate education because of increased class sizes, crumbling schools and lack of equipment then I vote YES to increased taxes or the extension of SPLOST. We are a growing county and this costs money. Whatever else is going on in our economy eduction is the key to getting out of it. Yes waste and inefficiency needs to be eliminated but a top rate school system costs money. and it has to come from somewhere.

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