The proposed Hall County School District 2015 budget lowers the millage rate while giving raises to employees.
The proposed millage rate is 18.9, down 0.35 from the current rate of 19.25. One mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in property value, which is assessed at 40 percent.
“We have received a preliminary digest from the tax assessor’s office,” Superintendent Will Schofield said during Monday’s work session of the Board of Education. “They were showing, at this point in time, about a 4.5 percent increase but don’t get too excited.”
Preliminary digest numbers don’t include exemptions or appeals; Schofield said the school district is projecting a digest increase of around 3 percent.
“That’s about ($1.4 million) that we’re giving back to taxpayers,” Schofield said regarding the millage decrease.
The proposed 2015 overall budget is at $219.3 million for the general fund, up from FY 2014 at $210.4 million. There is around a $5.5 million difference between revenues and expenditures, with the district dipping into the fund balance, projected to be at $16 million, for the remainder.
Along with the digest increase, extra monies are coming in from state funds.
School board members have already approved giving a full 190-day contract to teachers, eliminating furlough days.
“In terms of compensation, that starts everybody in the district off next year at about 2.2 percent more compensation than they had last year,” Schofield said.
Also, there’s room in the budget for up to 25 new teaching positions.
Along with the millage rate decrease, employee raises were proposed, ranging from $300 to $1,200 for certified employees depending on whether or not an employee had received step raises over the past few years.
For classified employees, Schofield proposed raises ranging from 0.4 percent to 1.7 percent.
Board members, notably Sam Chapman and Brian Sloan, requested more be done in wage increases.
“I want us to be financially sound,” Chapman said. “But we need more in compensation for employees.”
Schofield said he would look into adjusting the numbers. He advised that going from $300 to $400 would cost the district an additional $90,000.
The total budget, including all incomes outside the general fund, comes to $294.1 million.
Public hearings for the proposed budget begin in June, with final approval for both the budget and millage rate tentatively scheduled for the June 23 board meeting.