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Hall County Schools to present information session before millage hearings

POSTED: June 17, 2013 12:35 a.m.

Prior to today’s first public hearing on the Hall County school budget and proposed millage rate increase, Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett will host a budget seminar.

Beginning at 3 p.m. at the district office, 711 Green St., the informational session is scheduled to cover a variety of components in how a school budget is pulled together.

Lovett, who was still developing an agenda for the event Friday, said that he will be discussing different types of revenue, such as local, special purpose local option sales tax and state and federal government funds.

“I’m going to deal with the austerity cuts, and I’m going to talk about the transportation grant, and what has happened to it,” he said.

Lovett said that he will also be taking a look at the five-year history of the county’s tax digest.

The Hall County Board of Education has given tentative approval to $207.9 million in the general fund for fiscal year 2013-14. The total budget is at $285.5 million.

The budget accounts for a tax rate of 19.25 mills. The current rate is set at 18.49

One mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in property value, which is assessed at 40 percent.

The millage rate came into question when administrators learned that Hall County’s tax digest decreased 2.5 percent from last year. They had originally been expecting a 1.5 percent decrease.

“The biggest challenge is trying to maintain a quality program with a declining tax digest, and with stagnant state revenues,” Lovett said. He pointed out that the school board is approaching the 20-mill limit on local property taxes.

“In other words, we’ve got to come up with some changes, because we’re nearing the end of the line, so to speak.”

Also at the 3 p.m. seminar, two teachers will speak about the effects of the tight budget on their jobs in the classroom.

“Since 2010, we’ve had salary reductions, we’ve had work schedule reductions ... at the same time, we have accountability guidelines, which keep getting upgraded yearly,” Lovett said. “All of the changes that are coming down through the national mandates and state mandates, the teachers are having to deal with all of that.”

The session is open to the public. It’s a new approach to discussing the budget with Hall residents, Lovett said.

“The goal behind this is to help people to understand where we are,” he said. “Hopefully they can see what we’re doing, that we’re being good stewards of money, and that we have problems that we’re trying to deal with.”

Public hearings for the millage rate have been set for today at 5 p.m., and for June 24 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The school board is expected to adopt the final FY14 budget and millage rate following that third hearing.


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