The Hall County Schools Board of Education on Monday, June 24, unanimously approved a $270 million general fund budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1, while shaving a little more off the property tax rate.
Board members approved setting the tax rate at 17.55 mills, down from the current rate of 18.2.
It’s the lowest tax rate since 2012, but still higher than the full rollback rate of 17.049.
The full rollback rate is the mechanism under state law that allows systems to avoid a hike by accounting for increases in revenue from property tax reassessments.
The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $250,000 is approximately $49.10 compared with $73.60 had the tax rate remained unchanged.
School district leaders and board members said in recent weeks that they hoped to “chisel down” the proposed tax rate as more than 3,000 county property tax collections await appeals.
They were able to do so thanks to lower-than-anticipated expenses for the current budget year.
And by tapping an additional $1.2 million, for about $5.7 million overall, from the school district’s reserve fund of $34.5 million, the board was able to balance the budget.
About 87% of the proposed budget is directed toward salaries and benefits for more than 3,500 school employees, from teachers to bus drivers to administrative staff.
Superintendent Will Schofield previously told The Times that additional revenues and expenses in the county budget were largely tied to teacher pay raises, about $3,000 per certified educator, which the state is funding.
The school district’s budget includes about $2 million to hire more teachers to manage student enrollment growth and special education needs.
And Schofield said he also expects more than $1 million in state funding for ongoing school safety enhancements.
A last-minute addition to the budget includes a $100 gift card for teachers to help them pay for classroom supplies, an expense worth about $240,000 in total, which the school district also funded this past year.
That’s “just a portion of what they pull out of their own pockets,” Schofield said.
The school district anticipates bringing in $24 million in special purpose local option sales tax revenue to fund capital projects.
Board members also budgeted an additional $9.8 million for ongoing renovations projects at local schools, such as re-roofing.
Hall County spends about $8,500 per pupil, according to data from the Georgia Department of Education, compared with the state average of about $9,400.