BOE Approves Final Millage
City Schools of Decatur Board of Education Sets Final 2019 Millage Rate
At their regular meeting on July 16, 2019, the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education adopted a tentative millage rate of 20.250 mills for general operations. This is an increase of 1.590 mills over the current millage rate of 18.660.
Why is the millage rate increasing for 2019?
This would be the first change in the millage rate in four years. This increase will allow CSD to maintain and implement critical district operations, such as:
- CSD is opening Talley Street Upper Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year, and it is a typical practice for the District to raise the mill rate by 1 when opening a school due to increased operational costs.
- Hiring 20 additional teachers to accommodate growth in student enrollment.
- Increasing teacher salaries to maintain our competitiveness with other nearby districts, including extending the full $3,000 salary increase recommended by the Governor to ALL CSD teachers. Because the district does not receive increased state funding equivalent to the full $3,000, CSD must contribute a portion of the $3,000 from local revenue in order for our teachers to receive the full amount. (CSD employs many teachers beyond the state allotment, for instance, elementary world language teachers; and the state holds back some revenue, called “local fair share,” from increases such as this.)
- Cost-of-living increases of 2% for all non-teaching positions including paraprofessionals, nutrition workers, bus drivers, custodians, and other district staff.
- District curriculum adoption and development of instructional materials.
- Hiring additional positions such as a social worker, school psychologist, bus drivers, custodians, and maintenance staff.
In addition, enrollment growth in CSD has been steadily outpacing the growth in the tax digest as demonstrated in the chart below. Adjusting for inflation, local tax revenue has dropped approximately 35% per student since 2011.
How does this millage rate compare to past millage rates?
How has the new senior homestead tax exemption impacted the need for increasing the millage rate?
The anticipated homestead tax loss from the senior exemption was $1.2 million annually. However, as shown in the graph below, the actual homestead tax loss has been much higher than anticipated. Over the last two years, the district has lost $2.3 million and $3.5 million due to the senior homestead exemption, exceeding the anticipated impact by an additional $1.1 million and $2.3 million, respectively. These amounts are equivalent to 0.58 and 1.21 mills in terms of this year’s budget.
At the time of passage, the Board committed to studying the impact of the senior homestead exemption on the tax base and to analyzing its effectiveness as a tool to slow the growth of student enrollment in schools. That study began this winter and is anticipated to conclude by fall. The results of that study will determine what adjustments, if any, should be made before renewal.
How will this impact property taxes paid by Decatur homeowners?
For every $100,000 of a home’s fair market value as determined by the DeKalb County Tax Assessor’s Office, this will be no more than an increase of $79.50 per year or $6.63 per month. Homes with a general homestead exemption will see a slightly smaller increase and those with a senior homestead exemption will see no change.
What is a “rollback millage” and how much of an increase is this beyond the rollback millage?
The "rollback" millage is the millage that would be needed to produce the same total revenue on the current year’s tax digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred. In other words, we would need to "rollback" the millage rate from the current rate of 18.660 to 18.069 mills to see no change in revenue for the District. For example in 2018, the District kept the 2017 millage rate of 18.660 mills; however, due to property reassessments, this represented an average increase of 3.43% in property taxes. In 2019, in order to fund the opening of a new school and other critical operations, CSD will need to increase the millage by 1.59 mills in addition to the rollback amount of 0.591 mills. See https://dor.georgia.gov/2018-rollback-millage-rate-when-digest-value-increased-reassessments for more details on “rollback millage.”
What happens next?
We invite public input on this proposal. The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education will hold public hearings on
- Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at 8:00 a.m.
- Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The final millage will be set at the Board of Education meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. All hearings and meetings are held in the Board of Education Room, City Schools of Decatur Central Office Building, 125 Electric Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030.
For more information, contact Susan Hurst, Executive Director of Finance, at email@example.com or 404-371-3601 x1023.
Board Meeting Links
June 10, 2019- Final FY 2020 Budget and Tentative Millage Rate Approval
June 18, 2019- Taxpayer Bill of Rights Hearing 1