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Budget increases for Hall schools with boost in state funds
Local revenue a 'big unknown;' millage expected to go down
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The Hall County School District has had 40 students request in-district transfers during the open request period, held April 1 through Monday.

Applications open May 1 for students who live out of district to attend a Hall school with open seats.

“We’ll still take in-district (transfer applications) at the same time,” Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Eloise Barron said. “So we’re not going to make anybody feel like they’ve been left out, because they might have missed our new timeline.”

State law allows the transfer of students between schools inside a district if space allows. For parents and students opting to transfer, they will be responsible for all transportation costs and responsibilities.

Anyone interested in learning more and applying for a transfer can find the forms at, under the ‘Public School Choice Information & Forms’ link in a rotating banner at the top of the Web page.

Carly Sharec

A preview of Hall County Schools’ 2015 budget paints a rosier picture than in years past, but school leaders caution not all information is in yet.

Tentatively, district leaders said they expect the general fund budget to be around $218.5 million, up from the $210.4 million for from road improvements and public works projects to libraries and parks to public safety operations and building construction.

SPLOST VI was approved by voters in 2009 and is set to expire next year.

If approved by voters, a SPLOST VII would have a five-year life and take effect July 1, 2015. Revenues distributed to each municipality would be determined based on population estimates, and officials are considering using some money off the top to pay for joint city-county projects.

Local governments must hold public hearings, build a project list, finalize cost and revenue estimates, and call for a referendum 60 days prior to a vote.

Officials said it is paramount to include voters in the process, and plan to hold two public input meetings, tentatively set for June 10 and 19. At those times, officials will identify funding priorities and begin building a project list.

A July 24 date has been set for the county to adopt a resolution approving SPLOST VII and instructing election officials to call for a fall referendum.

Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton said officials must walk a fine line in this process, pointing out which projects could be served by the tax while not specifically advocating them. It is necessary to gather the public’s wish list, he added.

One of the biggest challenges in selling a SPLOST VII to the public is the fact revenue from the current tax has fallen well below projections.

Initial projections for SPLOST VI placed revenues for the county and participating cities at about $240 million over the six-year life of the tax. But those estimates have now dropped to $152 million.

Dr. Alfie Meek, an economist at Georgia Tech, has been hired by the county to help formulate revenue projections for a SPLOST VII.

Gainesville City Councilman Sam Couvillon said convincing voters of the wisdom of approving a new SPLOST will depend not on selling the projects so much as relating their benefits.

“Hopefully, (voters) will take ownership of that,” he said.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said he believes having a citizen oversight committee will help alleviate voters’ concerns.

Officials plan to have such a committee meet quarterly to review revenues, expenditures and project status.

Another challenge will be convincing voters that no other good options remain to finance capital projects. Officials roundly agreed that spending general fund money, issuing bonds or raising ad valorem taxes were not viable.

Moreover, they insisted on the need to finance capital projects based on the expected growth coming to Hall County.

“(Voters) have no idea what we’re looking at,” said Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Mecum.

But identifying the right kind of projects to fund will take some due diligence, and officials said it is important to set priorities on them with respect to the county’s needs.

“We’ve got to proceed cautiously,” Couvillon said.

Budget Calendar