Toombs County Schools Set Millage Rate, Approve Partial Rollback
The Toombs County Board of Education has officially approved their new millage rate, which will provide taxpayers with a partial rollback from last year’s 14.6 rate. “Previously, we had moved the millage rate up to 15 to be competitive with other districts and fund several new programs for our students. Then we accepted the rollback rate last year, which moved the millage rate to 14.6 mils, and we will accept the rollback rate again this year, which will move the rate to 14.3 mils,” Superintendent Barry Waller explained.
Though this proposed millage rate is less than the previous year’s rate, it is larger than the current rollback rate, which is set at 13.6 mils because of inflation. Waller said that the Toombs County School System cannot adhere completely to this set rollback rate because of a national law regarding state equilization funding. “By state law, if the school system sets the rate below 14 mils, we will lose state equalization funding, which totals around $3 million,” Waller remarked. “It would then take raising the millage rate continued from page
by almost 7 mils to make up for that funding lost, which would make the rate have to be 20 mils.”
According to Waller, these equalization funds are issued by the state to ensure that the smaller rural school systems have equal funding with the larger systems within the state and are imperative to the continued success of the school system. Waller also shared that it is the equalization funds that have allowed Toombs County Schools to develop a plethora of program options for students, such as the Heavy Machinery Pathway, Information and Technology Pathway, and more.
Yet, because the school system is above the determined rollback rate, it is forced to address the issue in the language of a tax increase. However, this new millage rate does not propose a uniform tax increase — only those property owners who had their properties reassessed this year will see a tax increase from this new millage rate. This increase on reassessed properties is equivalent to an increase of $27.92 per year or $2.33 per month for properties with a $100,000 value. Those who did not have their properties reassessed will even see a decrease in taxes, as the issue stems from inflation within society, according to Waller.
“Unfortunately, the rollback millage rate has dropped below that 14 mil threshold that we cannot drop below. This is inflationary growth we are experiencing, we could have dropped the millage rate to 14 mils, but if the inflation improves a year from now, we would have to increase the millage rate substantially,” he commented. “We do not want to inflict that on our taxpayers, so we are trying to take incremental steps to help property owners.”
The Toombs County Board of Education will hold a series of three public hearings regarding the proposed millage rate on Thursday, August 25, at 5 p.m., and Thursday, September 1, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. All of these meetings will occur in the Board Room at Toombs County High School.