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2 hearings set Monday for Hall school budget

Hall County Schools budget hearings

When: 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday

Where: 711 Green St., Gainesville

Residents will have two final chances Monday to make comments on a proposed 2017-18 Hall County Schools budget before the school board takes a final vote.

Public hearings are scheduled at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday at the school district offices located at 711 Green St.

Superintendent Will Schofield has proposed a $265.15 million general fund budget that raises salaries for all employees by 2.5 percent, as well as including mandated increases for employee benefits. The state legislature is requiring a 2 percent pay increase for teachers, but school officials have proposed a 2.5 percent hike across the board.

A teacher who made the average teacher salary in Hall County of $54,919 in 2017 would get a 3.84 percent pay increase to $57,025.88 in the proposed budget when the step increase for another year of experience is factored in, according to Jonathan Boykin, financial officer for Hall County Schools.

The state has increased costs school districts pay for both the teacher retirement system and the employer contribution for health insurance for classified or non-teacher employees.

Schofield said earlier in the budget process that the costs for the pay raises and increased benefits for employees would cost the district more than $11 million in additional resources.

An additional $102,796 is budgeted for 1.5 teacher positions that are being added for the English language learners program. The district is also adding $50,000 for efforts to keep drugs out of the school district. An estimated $15,000 of that would be used for the purchase of a drug-sniffing dog trained to find drugs in schools.

The budget also drops the tax rate from 18.8 mills to 18.5 mills, but would still be an increase for some taxpayers who had increases in their property tax reassessment in 2017. The value of property subject to Hall County school taxes increased by 5.61 percent, according to Boykin.

School officials have said the school district would collect 2.33 percent more taxes than it would under the rollback rate.

The rollback rate is computed as the tax rate that would produce the same total revenue as the current year had there not been a reassessment. The rollback rate for school taxes in 2017 is 18.079 mills. While the tax rate is lower than the current millage rate, it is .421 mills higher than the rollback rate.

The millage rate equals $1 of taxes on every $1,000 of taxable value. Properties in Hall County are assessed at 40 percent of their value for tax purposes. For instance, a home worth $100,000 would pay $740 in school taxes under the proposed millage rate.

Boykin said a vote would likely take place on both the budget and the tax rate after the second public hearing.

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