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Gainesville school budget up for debate at final hearing

Gainesville Board of Education meeting

What: Final hearing on budget

When: 5 p.m. Monday

Where: School board office, 508 Oak St., Gainesville

Residents will have one last opportunity Monday to voice opinions to school board members on a proposed 2018 Gainesville City School District budget that would keep the tax rate the same.

It’s technically considered a tax increase since overall property values have increased and the government would thus be collecting more in revenue.

The second of two public hearings on the $70.1 million budget is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at the school district offices located at 508 Oak St.

Chris Griner, the district’s chief financial officer, said the board is scheduled to vote on the budget June 19.

No one spoke at the first public hearing May 22. School officials, board members and The Times were the only ones to attend that meeting.

The budget keeps the tax rate at the same 6.85 mills in the 2017 budget, but Griner acknowledged when the budget was first presented to the school board May 15 that some residents would be paying higher taxes because of the growth in property values through reassessment. The proposal anticipates a nearly $1.7 million increase in revenues, a 9 percent growth.

The budget allocates a 2 percent pay raise for all employees, a $1.1 million increase in the employer portion contribution to the Teacher Retirement System and $400,000 in additional employer costs to provide health benefits for employees who are not teachers.

Griner said the nearly $2.3 million coming out of reserve funds to balance the budget is almost solely related to the costs of pay raises and the rise in benefit costs paid by the district for employees.

The hearing will be followed by the board’s monthly work session, where incoming school Superintendent Jeremy Williams will be present. Williams doesn’t take over as superintendent until July 1, but joined the district staff June 1 as chief of staff, allowing him to work with current Superintendent Wanda Creel in the transition. Creel announced earlier in the year that she would leave the district at the end of her contract June 30.

Both meetings are open to the public.

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