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Superintendent tells BOE he may ask for tax increase next year
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A new elementary school in South Bryan could mean higher property taxes next year.

Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher told school board members during a March 21 work session in Black Creek he would likely recommend a millage rate increase next fiscal year, but did not say how big.

Brooksher told board members he won’t seek a millage increase for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins July 1, but the planned opening of the new elementary school in August 2020 will add more salaries and operational cost to the system’s budget, he said.

Bryan County Schools currently has a millage rate of 15.075 mills, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue.

By contrast, Chatham County has an 18.881 millage rate and Liberty County’s is 16.5 mills. Evans County’s is 14 mills.

Brooksher told board members that he may seek a millage rate increase in fiscal year 2021 after a discussion of salary studies for principals, directors and assistant superintendents this year.

The superintendent told the BoE that the market for top notch principals and assistant superintendents was getting increasingly competitive.

School board members agreed with the idea of offering more competitive wages, with District 3 representative Derrick Smith noting “you don’t get better by being the lowest paid.”

The school system is also planning to fund raises promised teachers by Gov. Brian Kemp during his campaign, and give raises to non-teaching or classified personnel, Brooksher said, none of which will require a millage rate increase this year, he told school board members.

“It’s in our budget, and it’s still a conservative budget,” Brooksher said.

Bryan County Schools will be able to keep taxes the same this year in part because tax revenues are up as well as state funding, according to the district’s financial officer, Melanie James.

New school moves forward

Also at the March 21 work session, school board members approved Phase 2 of the new elementary school in South Bryan for a maximum price of $20.065 million. Phase I is costing taxpayers $3.4 million.

The new South Bryan Elementary School is the third school to be built in an approximately six-mile radius since 2012, and is near where a new Richmond Hill High School will be built.

At a recent forum sponsored by the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce, Brooksher said if the system continues to grow at its present rate it will have more than 21,000 students by 2028.

Bryan County Schools currently has less than 10,000 students.

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