Decatur school board l to r: Garrett Goebel, Superintendent David Dude, Tasha White, Lewis Jones (chair), Annie Caiola and Heather Tell. Courtesy City Schools Decatur

Decatur school system may raise millage for first time in four years

During its monthly meeting earlier this week Decatur’s school board tentatively adopted raising the millage rate for the first time in four years to 20.250 mills for general operations. This is an increase of 1.590 mills over the current millage rate of 18.660.

It’s still not officially a done deal. The board will hold public hearings on June 18 at 8 a.m. and July 16 at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The final millage gets voted on at the board’s next regular meeting on July 16 beginning at 6:30 pm. All hearings and meetings are held at City Schools Decatur’s central office, 125 Electric Avenue.

Some of the reasons cited by CSD for this raise include:

  • The opening of Talley Street Upper Elementary in August.
  • Hiring 20 additional teachers to accommodate growth in student enrollment.
  • Increasing teacher salaries to remain competitive with nearby districts.
  • Cost-of-living increases by 2% for all non-teaching positions.

Additionally, in November 2016, voters approved a senior homestead tax exemption that has wound up costing more than anticipated. Initially, it was projected that the homestead tax loss from the exemption would be $1.2 million annually. But over the last two years (2017 and 2018) the district says it has lost $2.3 million and $3.5 million respectively due to the senior homestead exemption.

The raise in millage means that for every $100,000 of a home’s fair market value as determined by the DeKalb County Tax Assessor’s Office, the tax increase is $79.50 annually. Homes with a general homestead exemption will see a slightly smaller increase and those with a senior homestead exemption will see no change.

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