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Gainesville City Schools' tax revenue should inch higher
Board approves slightly lower millage rate
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The millage rate for Gainesville school taxes for 2016 will be lower — by a small enough amount that the city system should still see a slight increase in tax revenue.

The Gainesville Board of Education unanimously voted Monday to set the millage rate at 6.85 mills. That is a decrease of .04 of a mill.

The millage rate is currently 6.89 mills.

The schools will advertise the tax digest history and set the final millage rate at the board’s Sept. 6 meeting.

The board agreed on the slight reduction after hearing the current rate would generate $346,807 more than expected.

The budget for fiscal year 2017, which started July 1, was based on the current millage rate.

Chris Griner, chief financial officer for the schools, told the board it could increase the millage rate slightly — to 6.98 mills — because appeals of tax assessments were approved, which lowered the tax digest. Board member Sammy Smith had asked at the board’s Saturday retreat what the millage rate would be if the revenue generated was the same as last year.

Griner said that rate would be 6.8 mills — a reduction of .09 of a mill.

Board Vice Chairman Brett Mercer suggested “something in between” and made the motion to set it at 6.85. Smith made the second.

Smith had asked Griner, “How can a constant millage (rate) be considered (a tax) increase?” Griner noted the assessments, the tax digest and millage rates get complicated.

Griner told the board Gainesville city government had requested the board set its rate so that work on property tax bills can begin. The city collects the property taxes for the school district.

Priscilla Collins, chief professional services officer, told the board the district is concentrating on getting proof of residency information from students and families.

Students must provide the proof of residency by Aug. 31 or they will be withdrawn from school, Collins said.

She provided information on students who had provided the information through Aug. 10. About 25 percent of the students had met the requirements then, Smith and Delores Diaz, board chairwoman, noted.

The schools’ website has a section on the proof of residency requirements on the left side of the home page.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

• Superintendent Wanda Creel announced the first “parent chats with the superintendent” and “community chats with the superintendent.” The parent chats will be at 7:30 a.m. and noon Thursday at Panera Bread on Dawsonville Highway. Community chats will be Aug. 23 at the same times and place.

• Sarah Bell, chief academic officer, reported a relatively even spread of pupil-teacher ratio numbers at the elementary schools. Classes generally range from about 19 to 25 students in the elementary grades. The middle school has a spread of about 23 to 29 students. The core subjects in high school average about 23 to 26 students. Bell noted the career and technical courses had a larger demand as electives — teachers were added and classes are a bit larger, she said.

• Creel reported the district’s first Reach scholarships will be awarded in September. She said the scholarships are intended for “students who have the potential of being first-time college attendees in their families.” The state will provide $10,000 each for five students, she said.

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