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School property tax rate drops again
by Bill Baldowski
August 06, 2014 01:45 PM | 2685 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Douglas County taxpayers will see a decrease in the property tax rate to pay off the school system’s bond debt, but no change in the rate to fund its operations.

At a special called meeting last week, the Douglas County school board set its 2014 millage rate at 21.35 mills, which includes 19.85 mills for maintenance and operations and 1.5 mills for bond indebtedness to fund its $200 million budget.

This means that for property assessed at $100,000, the total 2014 education-related tax will be $854, while for a home assessed at $150,000, the tax is $1,281. For a $200,000 home, it is $1,708.

By comparison, in 2013, the total school system property tax was $866 for property assessed at $100,000, $1,299 for property assessed at $150,000 and $1,732 for property assessed at $200,000, said Douglas County Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Greg Denney.

Despite a 1.37 percent increase in the tax digest, the board chose to keep the schools’ maintenance millage rate rather than approving a rollback. It has kept the rate the same since 2010.

The revenue the 19.85 mills generates is for maintenance and operation of school buses, heating and air conditioning of school buildings and some teacher support, Denney said.

However, this marks the fifth consecutive year the bond indebtedness millage rate has been decreased.

In 2010, that rate was 4.1 mills but fell to 3.1 mills in 2011 and 1.5 mills this year.

Denney said this year on a home valued at $100,000, a Douglas County taxpayer would pay $60 for school-related bond indebtedness where the owner of a $150,000 home will pay $90 and for a $200,000 home, $120.

By comparison, last year for bond indebtedness, the owner of a $100,000 home paid $72 while for a $150,000 home, it was $108 and for a $200,000 home, $144.

“The separate millage rate we have for bond indebtedness is used exclusively to pay back the debt the school system incurred following passage of a 2007 school bond referendum,” Denney said.

Approval of that referendum by taxpayers included school construction, he said.

Denney credited the decreasing bond indebtedness millage rate to Douglas County voters passing a education-related special purpose local option sales tax referendum in 2011.

Denney said half of that SPLOST went to debt retirement and half to special projects.

Another item the education-related SPLOST helped fund was new technology equipment in Douglas County schools.

If not for the passage of the 2011 sales tax, the bond indebtedness rate would need to be around 6 mills now, Denney said.

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