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Hall County Schools employee raises scaled back in latest budget proposal
Tax digest may not increase as much as expected
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Hall County’s tax digest may increase only 2 percent — instead of the 3 percent school officials used to estimate property tax revenue — and raises for employees have been scaled back from 3 percent to 2.5 percent.

The draft school budget for fiscal year 2017 would require $4.3 million from the reserve fund.

The school district would spend about $1.2 million less with the revised budget — $226.9 million versus $228.1 million.

The budget does not propose a tax increase in the millage rate.

“We appreciate your willingness to dip into that” reserve fund to pay for salary increases, Superintendent Will Schofield told the Board of Education on Monday night.

The board will discuss the budget again at its May 16 meeting, which is set for 6 p.m. at Chestatee High School. Final action on the budget is not expected until June 27.

The budget has included pay increases for employees — and the use of reserve funds — since the board began discussing next year. Schofield pointed out the budget also includes “step” increases for teachers — based on experience and education level — that will cost about $1.5 million.

The board also approved $6.9 million for construction at East Hall High School — most of that for a performing arts center — and a contract for $680,000 to re-roof Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy.

The East Hall work also includes re-doing and expanding the bus lanes, which will be in use Monday, and renovating the space in the former performing arts center, which will not be done until summer 2017.

The Wauka Mountain re-roofing will be done this summer and the East Hall performing arts center construction will start this summer.

The East Hall Performing Arts Center bid was higher than expected and about $300,000 was identified to be cut, but board members agreed to fund the higher amount. Some other construction work costs have been under budget, and Matt Cox, executive director for facilities, told the board some contingency money probably will not be needed.

That money comes from the special purpose local option sales tax funds, generated by a one-cent sales tax.