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Hall’s proposed school tax rate amounts to 6 percent increase due to higher property values

The Hall County school board is planning to slightly reduce the property tax rate to balance a $255 million expense budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

But this will still amount to a 6 percent tax increase under state law.

The tax rate is currently set at 18.50 mills.

Under state law, a full rollback of the tax rate to 17.243 mills (to account for increases in revenue from property tax reassessments) must be made to avoid a tax increase.

The school board is proposing to lower the tax rate to 18.29 mills.

Four budget hearings are scheduled for this month.

Hall County Schools budget hearings

What: Public forums on proposed $250 million school district budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year

When: 6 p.m. June 11, 6 p.m. June 13, 11:30 a.m. June 25, 6 p.m. June 25

Where: Hall County School District central office, 711 Green St., Gainesville

Note: Adoption of FY 2018-19 budget is scheduled for June 25

It’s a budget that includes pay increases for employees; additional staff to open two new schools in South Hall; additional pay for long-term sponsors of extracurricular activities; and increased security equipment to improve safety on school campuses.

“I take a deep breath and give thanks for a banner year in the Hall County School District,” Superintendent Will Schofield wrote in an email on June 1 to faculty, staff and parents.

The school district graduated more than 1,900 students this year, a total Schofield said was about 200 higher than the previous high mark.  

Continued growth in student enrollment, however, as evidenced by the opening of a new middle and high school this fall semester, means an additional $16 million in spending planned for next year.

Millions will be allocated to open the new Cherokee Bluff high and middle schools in South Hall, plus an additional $600,000 to cover transportation expenses for new bus routes.

“Opening Cherokee Bluff middle and high schools requires a strategic investment, but it reflects a move that positions us for the growth our community is experiencing,” Schofield said.

Revenues, on the other hand, have increased about $14.1 million, a 6 percent increase year-over-year.

The school district is receiving an infusion of new funding from the state this year, an estimated $9.5 million as austerity cuts end under Gov. Nathan Deal.

The school district, however, will have to pour nearly $8 million in additional benefit contributions to the teacher retirement system.

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