BOE Holding Millage Rate Public Hearing Tonight

The Stephens County Board of Education will hold its first of three public hearings on a proposed millage rate increase later today.

That public hearing is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Stephens County School System Administrative Office on Mize Road.

Last week, the Stephens County Board of Education voted 6 to 1 to propose raising the millage rate from the current 18.4 mills to the state maximum millage rate for a school system of 20 mills.

That represents a 1.6 mill increase and would increase taxes by about $64 for every $100,000 in property value.

The Stephens County school system is looking to make up a multi-million dollar shortfall in Fiscal Year 2015.

Last month, Stephens County School Superintendent Bryan Dorsey estimated the school system must find about $2.7 million to both balance the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and pay back the estimated deficit in the school system’s fund balance.

Dorsey said last week that even with capping out the millage rate at 20 mills, a reduction of 11 work days for staff would still be needed to cover the rest of that shortfall.

Some reasons given by board members who voted in favor of proposing the 20 mill figure include keeping as low as possible the number of work days that staff would lose and having the opportunity to appeal to the state for crisis financial assistance.

Dorsey told the board that state help, while a possibility, was by no means guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the lone vote last week against the 20 mill figure was Board Chair Dr. Elizabeth Pinkerton.

She called it a huge burden on everybody.

State law requires the Board of Education to hold three public hearings prior to a final vote on the millage rate.

The other two public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m., and July 18 at 8 a.m.

The Board of Education is expected to take a final vote on the millage rate on July 18 after the 8 a.m. public hearing.