During any other meeting, a recommendation to the Bryan County School Board to hold the line on the millage rate would’ve been the top story, given that barely two months ago there was talk of a tax increase of up to 2 mills.
But Bryan County School Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher’s recommendation Thursday night that the board keep its millage rate at 15.075 mills played second fiddle to word the system would allow parents to decide whether to send their children to school or keep them at home and enroll them in online classes.
Still, Brooksher’s recommendation was surprising and comes despite an approximately $6 million budget shortfall and the opening of Frances Meeks Elementary School, which will require more staff.
The system’s proposed budget for the 2020-2021 school year will weigh in at some $86 million, and will not require any layoffs, pay cuts or furlough days, the superintendent said. The system was able to use attrition through retirement and not filling open positions – particularly in administration – to make cuts in spending.
Brooksher also praised school officials for not having raised the millage rate in 12 years – it’s actually lower now than it was some years back.
However, homeowners will pay more this year in taxes despite the same millage rate due to reassessments by the county, which are required by the state.
When local governments don't roll back millage rates to offset the increase in taxes due to increased property values, that's considered a tax increase and governments must advertise them as such and hold public hearings.