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School millage to drop a little

David Adlerstein
The Apalach Times

With a modest expansion of the county’s tax base, county property owners will be seeing a lowering of the millage they’ll pay in school taxes next year.

At the school board’s public hearing Monday evening, members voted unanimously to approve a proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-21 that will see a drop of about 2.5 percent in their tax obligation, from 5.379 down to 5.245 mills.

That decline was possible because the district’s tax base grew by about $90 million, from $2.22 billion to $2.31 billion, or a roughly 4 percent expansion. This growth was smaller than the year prior, when the tax base expanded by 9.3 percent.

The drop in the overall millage rate came as a result of the state lowering what it sets as the required local effort, which went from 3.309 mills to 3.177 mills.

“It’s a function of property values increasing,” said Board Chair Stacy Kirvin.

All three other millages remain the same, with the basic discretionary staying at 0.748 mills, the capital outlay at 1.0 mills, and the additional operating millage, the only one set before voters for their approval, at a half-mill.

The proposed required local effort will yield an anticipated $$7.03 million, the discretionary millage an additional $1.66 million, the capital outlay tax about $2.21 million, and the additional operating millage about $1.11 million. This total local property tax revenue, of about $12.4 million, about $300,000 more than in the current year.

Couple these property tax proceeds with about $2.5 million in various other revenues from both the state and federal government, and add in the roughly $3 million in various carryover balances from this year, and you get a total revenue package of about $17.5 million.

In terms of spending, the district is expected to pay out about $6.14 million in salaries and $2.04 million in benefits to its staff, and another $4.27 million to purchase services from outside contractors.

Capital outlay costs will consume about $3.11 million, the costs of maintaining infrastructure a little more than $400,000 and the price tag for materials and supplies another $343,000.

All told, these total appropriations of roughly $16.58 million, will leave a balance at the end of the year, on June 30, 2021, of just shy of $930,000.

It will cost about $1.75 million to feed all the schoolkids, mostly funded by federal dollars that flow through the state. At the end of the next fiscal year, the district plans to have about $428,000 left in its food service fund.