If Bryan County residents’ overall tax bills go up this year, it doesn’t look like it will be because of schools.
The Board of Education has tentatively said it will roll back taxes again this year – for the seventh year in a row. The discussion came Monday during a called meeting and will be officially voted on at the next regular meeting.
District Financial Advisor Melanie James said each year, starting in 1999, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights required the board to figure a roll back rate, “which is what taxes would generate without any reassessments - only counting new properties added and eliminating all reassessments,” she said.
This year, the rollback rate is 13.357 – a decrease of .035 of one mill.
“With the roll back, we should still generate a little bit more than $50,000 on top of what we have budgeted,” she said.
But while that news is good, the district is still looking at absorbing a loss of about $1.2 million, mainly due to state austerity cuts.
“This year (in budget discussions), we talked about how we’d really cut it down to bare bones in operations – we cut this very close, as close as we could,” James said. “There’s no option of going back and cutting down those areas. We have the $2.5 million local projects funding which could be reduced. That’s the only place in the budget where there’s any leeway.”
If the proposed roll back does happen, Brewer said it’s likely the capital projects budget will have to be turned to in order to help absorb those losses. She also noted, despite austerity cuts and roll backs, while surrounding school districts have cut programs, the local BoE has continued to fund those things for students and faculty.
“We haven’t cut back for anyone. We have continued to do thing for students and faculty that our community expects,” she said.
Board Chairman Eddie Warren said, dollar wise, the district will “be okay” this year.
Board members Joe Pecenka, Billy Mock, Jeff Morton, Judy Crosby and Frances Meeks all noted it’s “better to be on the side of rolling back taxes,” especially with the current status of the economy. Board member Mary Warnell was out of town and absent from the meeting.
Morton made the motion to do the roll back and the board unanimously agreed. The official vote will happen Thursday, Aug. 28.
See the full story in the Bryan County News on Wednesday.