Nearly three months after adopting a $70.1 million budget, the Gainesville City School System board approved a tax rate Wednesday for the 2017-18 school year to pay for those expenditures.
The board voted 4-1 to keep the tax rate at the same 6.85 mills as it was a year ago. The millage rate equals $1 of taxes on every $1,000 of taxable value.
The vote came in a called meeting/work session after the last of three public hearings on the tax rate. No one spoke or asked questions during that hearing.
While the rate remains the same, it will still result a tax increase for 4,908 properties subject to school taxes in the city because of 2017 county property reassessments, according to Steve Watson, chief appraiser for the Hall County Board of Assessors.
Even with the approved tax rate, the school system still expects to take about $3.2 million out of its fund balance to cover a shortfall.
Sammy Smith said he voted against the tax rate because it will “generate higher taxes on some city property owners.”
“I have never in my 10 years on this board ever voted to increase taxes,” Smith said. “It’s also a signal here to all of us — emphasize us — to live within our means.”
When the tax rate was tentatively approved last month by a 3-2 vote, board members Delores Diaz, Brett Mercer and Willie Mitchell said they voted to keep it the same out of concern that a lower millage rate would require the board to dip too deeply into the fund balance. John Filson, who voted for the rate Wednesday after voting against it last month, said he was also concerned about the fund balance getting too low, but he wanted to get public input before deciding to vote for it.
Gainesville City School System Superintendent Jeremy Williams said the fund balance is expected to be around $11.4 million by the end of the budget year. He said that amount still keeps the district with a fund balance that is a little more than 15 percent of the total general budget.