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Hall Schools delay budget, millage rate adoption over this mistake

Hall County Schools postponed its budget and millage rate adoption by a month after discovering that its advertisements in The Times were not large enough to meet the requirements established by state law. 

The final budget and millage rate were scheduled for adoption Monday, June 27, at the school board meeting. But the date has now been pushed back to July 25. There will be three more public hearings in the meantime. 

  • July 18, 6 p.m.

  • July 25, 11:30 a.m. 

  • July 25, 6 p.m.

Superintendent Will Schofield said the county tax assessor’s office pointed out that the advertisements were less than the required 30 square inches. The school system then checked with the Department of Revenue to see whether they needed to re-run its ads, and the department said yes. 

“I would suggest if we looked at a lot of ads in a lot of papers, there are a number of them that aren’t quite 30 square inches in size,” Schofield said. “But I’m glad we caught it before instead of after.”

According to state law, if the millage rate is not fully rolled back, a governing body must hold three public hearings and “place an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation” before each hearing. These advertisements “can not be less than 30 square inches.” 

The school board passed a spending resolution for the month of July. A school system is legally required to adopt a spending resolution if it fails to adopt a budget before the start of the fiscal year on July 1. 

Schofield said having to delay the budget adoption is an inconvenience, but it won’t affect their operations. 

The school system announced earlier this month that it would lower its millage rate to 15.99 for the 2022-23 fiscal year, down from 16.485 the year before. 

The millage rate will not change between now and July 27, officials said. 

It is the lowest millage rate since 2005, though it is not a full rollback, and it may not translate into savings for property owners given the dramatic rise in property values. 

The school system’s finance officer, Jonathan Boykin, said the tax digest is up 19% over last year. 

The school system is dipping into its reserves and using $15 million to pay for employee raises. 

Operational costs have increased significantly as well. Maintenance is up 17% due to the increasing price of materials, and transportation is up 21% due to the rising cost of diesel fuel.