Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said he will present three options to the school board to consider before it votes on a tax rate in September to fund its 2018 fiscal year budget.
The Gainesville school board approved a $70.1 million budget for the 2017-18 year in June. That budget required more than $2 million coming out of the school system’s fund balance if the millage rate remained at the current 6.85 mills. The millage rate equals $1 of taxes on every $1,000 of taxable value.
The city school board does not vote on the millage rate until September when tax assessment appeals are finalized. With reassessment on some properties in 2017, keeping the tax rate the same would still mean a tax increase for some residents who had higher reassessments in 2017. The rollback rate is computed as the tax rate that would produce the same total revenue as the current year had there not been a reassessment. The rollback rate for the city schools would be 6.46 mills, according to school officials.
Williams said he wants to have three options for the board to consider before voting on a tax rate and the cost to the fund balance associated with each.
“What we anticipate doing is when we bring the millage rate forward is looking at the different options, looking at the current millage rate and seeing what that will require, the full rollback rate and maybe somewhere in between,” Williams said. “We’ll look at those three options. If we need more than that, if we need to look at somewhere in between those three, we would.”
Williams said he wants to look at the options before forming an opinion of his own on the tax rate.
“I want to wait until we get all of our numbers in,” he said. “I want to see how we did this year compared to our fund balance. I want to look at our expenditures for the month of July and see whether we’re on track, to see what costs are included with the health care side, with our allotments, with the need.”
Keeping the tax rate at the current tax rate or anything more than the rollback rate would require public hearings before the rate is set, while no hearings would be required if the board used the rollback rate.
“It’s important for us to make sure that we’re not only serving the kids in the community, but also being fair,” he said.