Cobb school board keeps tax rate at same level

The Cobb County School Board has voted to keep its tax rate steady. Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

The Cobb County School Board has voted to keep its tax rate steady. Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

The Cobb County School Board Thursday voted to hold its property tax rate at the same level as last year.

Board members held the tax rate steady for the tax bills that will be mailed to homeowners later this year. The school tax rate has been the same since 2007, Cobb school district Chief Financial Officer Brad Johnson said.

However, this doesn’t mean your tax bill  will remain the same. Johnson said the average home in Cobb increased in value by $16,320 for the 2019-2020 school year, and that will drive many bills higher. The property tax bills also reflect tax rates set by the county and cities where homeowners live.

The average homeowner in Cobb will pay about $123 more in Cobb school taxes for this year’s property tax bill, Johnson added.

The district needs $1.1 billion in revenue to fund the school district’s fiscal year 2020.

School board member Randy Scamihorn used the moment before the board’s vote to inquire about the status of the system’s reserve fund.  The reserve fund has been used to fund some operations, drawing it down. Johnson did note the system is working to rebuild its reserves.

Auditors suggest school districts have at least two month’s worth of operating expenses in the reserve fund for emergencies, and Johnson said the Cobb school system is following that guideline.

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Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said the school district uses taxpayer dollars in a fiscally-responsible way. For example, many school systems use a good portion of their Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax revenue to pay off debt related to financing school renovation or replacement projects.

In contrast, Ragsdale said the district is able to move projects along without borrowing against the anticipated SPLOST income. Some of those projects include the King Springs Elementary School replacement project, secondary data center and classroom additions at Campbell and Pebblebrook high schools.

“We are being tremendous, positive and good stewards of their taxpayer dollars,” he added.

School board member Jaha Howard agreed, adding that frugal approach to running the system builds trust with communities and district employees.

“We are being good stewards of taxpayer money and we have to continue to trumpet that information,” he said. “We need to celebrate the things we’re doing extremely well.”

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