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Tax increase is on the way
Amount uncertain as budget talks continue
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The DeKalb County Board of education’s proposed budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year is still up in the air as the Review goes to press. The initial proposal, which included a seventeen cent tax increase, has been whittled down to a configuration that was thought to involve a tax increase of 6.5 cents, but upon further examination, school board officials say that a line item was left out of Monday night’s budget discussion, and officials suspect that the final rate will be slightly higher.Members of the school board and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby met Thursday night with Mayor Mike Foster and the county budget committee to discuss the proposed school budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.The budget put forth by the board includes the hiring of new positions within the system, pay raises for existing personnel, and would require a seventeen cent increase in the county property tax rate.The budget committee has rejected the board’s proposal in regard to approving money for new employees in the system.The commissioners did voice approval of the proposition of a pay raise for school system personnel, however.Foster and county financial advisor Steve Bates both informed the school board members present Thursday evening that in its proposed state that the budget was unsustainable over the next few years, and at a time when most other county offices are experiencing up to 20 percent budget cuts, the school board’s requests could not all be granted.Willoughby again stated his position at the meeting, and renewed requests for new personnel, along with the tax increase, based on school needs.Stressing that the budget requests were financially unsustainable, Foster asked the school board to work on and revise its proposed budget, and to make cuts wherever possible.The current DeKalb county property tax rate is $1.46 per $100 of assessed value.The new certified tax rate, which the state established after reappraisal, is expected to be $1.52.An increase in property tax is likely to be enacted in the final county budget, no matter the outcome.Bates told the budget committee Thursday night that a five cent tax hike would be required just to fund the school system's pay raises, and that the county general fund will need more revenue to function properly.No final decision has been reached, but based on the budget committee’s discussions so far, the new tax rate is likely to be as much as $1.60.In renewing the request for funds Thursday night, Willoughby and members of the school board gave their reasons for asking for new employees, which they say are necessary to meet the needs of students, and downplayed the effect of the proposed seventeen cent tax increase.Willoughby said the money that would come from most taxpayers pockets would be less each day than the cost of a soda pop each day."For each penny that the tax is raised on a $100,000 piece of property, that person's tax goes up $2.50 per penny,” Willoughby said. “For $150,000, it goes up $3.75 per penny, on $200,000 it increases $5.00 per penny.