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Long BoE raises millage to 13.5
LONG mill rate hearing 1111
Long County citizens came out last week to voice their opinion on the Long County Board of Education raising the mil rate on property taxes. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
After months of speculation, the Long County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to raise its millage rate from 9.852 to 13.5.
“We’re all taxpayers. We don’t want to do it, but it’s a part of growing and taking care of the children in our education system. We’re sorry we have to do it,” said BoE member Linda DeLoach.
The vote passed after the board held two public hearings earlier Monday, which drew sizeable crowds of concerned residents.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters said the rate increase is necessary for several reasons, including the bad economy, funding cuts from the state, decreased equalization funding and austerity cuts. The superintendent said the budget cuts came to about $2.5 million.
Waters also said the school is taking on more students. There are about 670 high school students, but the school system is still being funded
for the 600 that were document last year.
He said, Long County’s cost to educate a student per year is $7,214, which is the third-lowest county rate in Georgia. Some systems, Water said, spend as much at $14,913 per student.
Waters broke down the new millage and explained how it will affect taxpayers. Under the old rate, a home that costs $100,000 would be taxed $394.08 annually. Under the new rate, the taxes would be $540 a year, an increase of about $145.92.
Some residents spoke up at the meeting. Derel Reddish said the board needs to look at the issue from the taxpayers’ side.
“Some people are on a fixed income and we’re already being taxed every where. I know that a tax increase may be necessary, but cuts need to be made first,” Reddish said.
Even though the increase was met with opposition, many residents also seemed to understand why the hike is necessary.
Kent Hall said that no matter how the board looks at the situation, the property owners are going to have to foot the bill for education because there isn’t enough tax revenue generated in the county.
“Y’all (the BoE) have a heck of a problem. The county is developing at such an alarming rate that the cost is falling on the tax base. Our growth is killing us,” Hall said.
The BoE members who voted were Emma Strickland, Linda DeLoach, Billy Hall, Dempsey Golden and Chairwoman Florence Baggs.
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