Franklin County School Board Holds First of Three Public Hearings on Proposed Millage Hike

The Franklin County Board of Education held the first of three public hearings last week on their proposal to raise the millage rate.

At the called meeting last Thursday, School Superintendent Chris Forrer announced the one mil rate hike and why it was necessary.

“The proposed millage rate is 17.0 mils. This is a 1.2 mil increase from last year. the additional income generated from the millage rate increase will be used to offset the 10.37% cut in state revenues from last year, finance anticipated expenditure increases, and balance the budget,” he said.

In a press release issued last month, the School Board stated the proposed budget of the requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate.

Therefore, before the Franklin County Board of Education may finalize the budget and set a final millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the increase.

At the first public hearing last week, each person who wanted to speak was given two minutes to express their opinion.

One person, Gary Hall, said this is not the time to raise the millage when a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is on the November ballot.

Hall said passing a higher millage rate will anger taxpayers who might then not vote for a new SPLOST in November.

Another person said farmers in Franklin County cannot afford another property tax hike.

The proposed millage increase is due to a 10% decrease in state
funding which makes up 70% of the operational budget, the adoption of a FY 20 budget where necessary expenses exceeded revenues, increased operational expenses and the reassessments or property value adjustments.

Last year, the school system’s total state funding was $26.1 million.  This year the State cut that to $22.9 million.

That, according to Forrer will means cuts in some significant areas.

Almost $246-thousand dollars will be cut from the salary allocation, just over $195-thousand from the operating budget, almost $446-thousand from QBE earnings, and $373-thousand from Equalization.

In July, the School Board voted to approve a spending resolution until they received the tax digest from the Tax Assessor’s office. Now that the tax digest has been received the Board expects to pass the FY21 budget at their August meeting.

The next two public hearings on the proposed millage hike will be both be held on Tuesday, August 11 at 8a and 6p respectively.