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Gainesville City Schools board could take first tax rate vote on Aug. 20
Final OK would come in September
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Gainesville City Schools Board of Education is close to setting a tax rate for its 2012-13 budget year.

Tentative adoption could come at the board’s Aug. 20 meeting, with final OK taking place in September.

Janet Allison, the system’s chief financial officer, said she has been crunching numbers with Steve Watson, Hall County’s chief appraiser, and Melody Marlowe, Gainesville’s chief financial officer.

“We had gotten a revised (revenue) estimate in early June and those were the numbers we worked on to finalize the budget,” Allison told the school board Monday night.

“In mid- or early August, we usually get an updated version because (officials) have gotten the (tax) digest back from the state,” she added. “That is in limbo right now, but we’ve been back and forth to determine how the numbers have changed since June.”

The tax digest is a list of taxable properties.

Allison said she hopes to firm up numbers over the next week or so.

The school board adopted the fiscal 2013 budget, which took effect July 1, on June 18.

At that time, the system set some $68.4 million in expenses and projected revenues to be around $65 million, leaving a $3.4 million gap. The system’s $6.5 million reserve fund would fill the gap.

The system also will use 10 employee furlough days, saving about $2 million in associated costs.

Some board members have said they think the days of putting budget woes on the faculty’s and staff’s shoulders should be over.

“I just feel the community needs to recognize that and at some point we just have to say the teachers have supported us, now we need to go in and support the teachers and do what’s right for our kids,” board member David Syfan said at the June 18 meeting.

A part of that support, Syfan said, could be tax rate increases.

The current rate is 7.39 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value and property in the city assessed at 100 percent.

Board member Sammy Smith asked Allison on Monday night whether the board has the option of “reinstituting” a tax rate for debts, which is at 0 mills because the city was able to pay off a 1993 bond issue.

“It’s my understanding we don’t unless we go back to the voters and ask for that,” Allison said.

The budget has short-term debts being funded by the system’s general fund.

“And the main one has been covering the projected shortfalls in (special purpose local option sales tax receipts), which didn’t happen in any one year,” Allison said.

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