The Property Owner’s Column sponsored by HCPOA
The Hartwell Sun, September 22, 2016
Is there an alternative to millage increase?
Our county is facing a financial crisis. The real estate collapse and following economic recession of the past several years has hit Hart County hard. Our Commissioners have exhausted almost all reserve funds and are faced with either a tax increase or a major budget shortfall. Most families face money difficulties at times and have to cooperate and work together to resolve the problem. Maybe now is the time to be united and cooperative as a county.
Let’s look at some facts:
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Value in $3.4 $6.6 $7.4 $9.2 $12.75 $10.74
% of 30 11.46% 21.99% 24.63% 30.70% 42.53% 35.79%
*Percentage based on an estimated $30milion annual operating expense. Note: Financial data derived from Annual Financial Reports by the Superintendent, HCCS
Many schools in the state have a reserve fund policy. In our area, Franklin County has a policy for unassigned fund balance to be not less than 5% with an ideal of approximately 8% but not to exceed 15% in order to be in compliance with OCGA 20-2-167(a)5. (Franklin County Schools adopted 8/9/11.)
OCGA 20-2-167(a)5 states, in part, that each local school system may establish a single fund, that when combined with the existing balance in such fund, shall not exceed 15% of that year’s budget. The purpose of this paragraph is to prohibit local school systems from accumulating surplus funds through taxation without accounting to the taxpayers for how such funds will be expended.
Mr. Mike Buckel gave a presentation to the Board of Education that included part of the above and urged the board to reduce their millage rate 1 to 2 mills. This would allow the County Commissioners to raise their rate by that amount and avoid both a budget short- fall and a tax increase. The Board did not even consider this option and instead, the Superintendent recommended maintaining the same millage rate as last year.
The Board of Education will vote on the millage rate on October 10. HCPOA asks the BOE and the community to support this cooperative plan to avoid a millage increase.