Outgoing board member Marshall Orson said at a recent meeting that he would like to see the tax rate lowered by $0.10. That would be a roughly $3 million decrease in revenue collected by the district.
“We seem to have plenty of room in the budget and I think it’s something that’s somewhat overdue given that we have really collected a lot of money from the taxpayers,” he said.
Other board members weren’t so sure it makes sense to reduce the tax rate.
“I’m hesitant to mess with the millage rate if we’re doing what the public wants us to do with regards to our facilities,” Allyson Gevertz said at the meeting.
The board approved a tentative budget last month totaling $2.55 billion. It includes the expansion of its early learning program, raises for all employees and money for needed HVAC and roof replacements.
The district has been under pressure from the local community and state officials in the last two months to address poor conditions at its school buildings, including Druid Hills High.
The controversy in part led the board to unexpectedly fire Cheryl Watson-Harris from her role as superintendent in a split vote in April. And it resulted in the Georgia Department of Education issuing a plan of action the district must follow if it wants access to millions of dollars in reimbursement for construction costs.
The decision to lower the tax rate comes down to whether or not the district is providing results to the taxpayers, said the school district’s chief financial officer, Charles Burbridge.
“While $3 million may not seem like a lot, $3 million is somebody’s early childhood program,” he said of the potential revenue decline. “I don’t think we want to do this quickly.”
The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $300,000 is approximately $361. The proposed tax increase for a non-homestead home with a fair market value of $500,000 is roughly $578.
There will be three public hearings about the proposed tax rate:
June 6: 10 a.m. virtual meeting; 6 p.m. meeting at the district’s Stone Mountain headquarters. Registration deadline to speak: noon Friday.
June 11: 11 a.m. virtual meeting. Registration deadline: noon June 10.
Those wishing to speak can register by calling 678-676-0722 or emailing email@example.com.