The Liberty County Board of Education adopted the 2020 Millage rate during their regular Board of Education meeting held Nov. 10.
LCSS Executive Director of Finance Stephanie Clark presented the final public hearing on the matter prior to the Board’s adoption.
Board member James Johns Sr. expressed his concern about the rate increase during the second public hearing saying it would be a burden on the citizens of the county. He said the Board needs to consider the fact that local municipalities and the county are also looking at tax increases as well. He added that the residents had just
supported the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax as well, adding to their burden.
Johns was the lone opposing vote on the action item.
Clark explained that the millage rate for 2019 was 16.358. Clark said keeping the millage rate the same for 2020 means property taxes would increase by 1.74 percent. The millage rate could be rolled back to 16.079 but the recommendation from Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry was to keep the millage rate at 16.358 for 2020.
The decision was due to reduced state and federal funding for 2021 as well as an increase in expenditures due to COVID-19. Clark pointed to the expenditures in technology and computer upgrades for virtual learning as well as monies spent for personal protective equipment and sanitation items. By keeping the millage the same it also allows the LCSS to maintain full calendars for employees with no reduction in work force.
However, it still represents a shortfall of approximately $489,336 to their budget. Clark said if the LCSS rolled back they would have seen a $838,000 shortfall.
The Board also approved the purchase 800 MacBook Air laptop computers. The new MacBook Air include a larger storage capacity as well as new and up-to-date components to maximize performance. In addition, the purchase will include 4-year warranty through Apple Care as well as the Microsoft Office Suite. The cost of the new MacBooks is $1,213,051.17 and will be paid through E-SPLOST.