With a 7-0 vote, the board of education confirmed its position following the third and final public hearing about the matter during its meeting last week at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School in Sandy Springs. The millage rate — 18.502 — is expected to generate a larger tax levy than fiscal 2014, which ends June 30.
Only Fulton taxpayers whose homes have increased in assessed value will see a tax increase.
Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales said the numbers in play illustrate how times have changed.
“Back in 2009, this tax levy generated about $542 million,” Morales said. “This same millage rate is going to now generate $516 million.”
In order to generate the same $509 million in tax levy as in the current fiscal year, the millage rate next school year would need to be decreased from the current millage rate of 18.502 to 18.342. This .88 percent decrease in the millage rate generates the “rollback” millage rate, Morales said.
“I guess we could say it’s really a good news item in that property values in Fulton County have inched up a bit and we’ve added some new properties to the tax base,” said District 3 board member Gail Dean. “In essence, I would say that is a good thing — that the economy is coming together. I believe that we will put the money to good use.”
The board has approved the system’s $1.4 billion budget for the 2014-15 school year.
The plan keeps class sizes the same, funds one extra day to the school year and increases per-pupil expenditures. It also provides a 3 percent one-time special payment to employees, with no furlough days for staffers.
“Our school board has navigated Fulton County Schools through some very difficult financial years, and, because of this, our school system is in a sound financial place,” said Superintendent Robert Avossa. “They’ve made a commitment to our families and our taxpayers that this budget would be balanced and would provide for our students’ and employees’ needs.”
Last week’s meeting was punctuated by a public comment segment featuring a procession of blistering letters criticizing the district, read by north Fulton residents, and written by teachers leaving for jobs elsewhere.
The letters, presented by residents from the Milton and Alpharetta areas, mentioned a range of issues facing teachers including low morale, inadequate pay and the be-all-end-all status of standardized tests. The teachers were not identified. “I used to have some autonomy … but teaching in Fulton has become a canned process,” stated a letter read by Maureen Curtis. “The system was using me as a test examiner and not a teacher … I have since resigned.”