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BoE to maintain tax rate of 15.5 mills

Despite state cuts, board should be ‘OK’

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POSTED: December 1, 2011 12:27 p.m.

The Liberty County Board of Education voted Monday to maintain the millage rate of 15.5 mills for the 2011 tax year during a called meeting.
No residents attended the meeting, and board members did not discuss the matter before voting. Chairwoman Lily Baker and board members Marcia Anderson, Carol Guyett and Harold Woods were present and each voted in support of the rate. Vice-chairwoman Verdell Jones and members Becky Carter and Charlie Frasier were not present.
During the Nov. 8 meeting, Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services, recommended that the board maintain its rate of 15.5 mills and explained that there was enough growth in the tax digest to result in an estimated 1.52 percent, or $270,000, increase in the next taxes levied.
The total potential for property tax revenue at the rate of 15.5 mills is $18.1 million, though the county retains 2.5 percent to cover a collection fee and the collection rate seldomly is 100 percent, Rogers said during the Nov. 8 meeting.
Though the tax revenue will be received during the board’s 2012 fiscal year, it correlates to the calendar year 2011, Rogers explained after Monday’s meeting.
In the same fiscal year, the state cut $7,716,207 from its allocation to the board for quality basic education funds, he said. Instead of receiving $41,892,431, the district will receive $34,176,404 in smaller monthly payments.
The state cuts were a result of budget trimmings across the board, with many districts being affected, he said. Specific cuts also were made to certain programs, such as student transportation and nursing.
Fortunately, the local board of education anticipated the cuts and budgeted to receive an estimated $34.5 million from the state, Rogers said.
“Due to the economy we were certain state revenues were not going to be sufficient to expect an increase or to receive the actual amount that the state ‘owes’ the district based on the funding formula,” he said.
To offset the difference, the board will rely on its fund balance, Rogers added.
And despite the budget cuts, the system still plans to have a full 190-day calendar for the 2012-13 year for the first time since the 2008-09 school year. In 2010-11 year, the system had six furlough days, and it has three during the current academic year.
When the board discussed and approved the full calendar in an October meeting, LCSS Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer cautioned the members that reductions in state could still potentially result in furlough days.
But Rogers said Monday that the state reductions are not likely to affect the 2012-13 calendar. “I think we’ll be OK,” he said.
“Over the course of a number of years, the board has conscientiously set monies aside for rainy days such as this,” he said. “We are very fortunate to be able to draw on those reserves in lean times in order to fund items such as eliminating furlough days.”

 

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