The Bibb County school board adopted Thursday a tentative millage rate of 17.945 mills, which would raise taxes for property owners.
Following last year’s countywide property revaluation, the system had the option of fully rolling back the millage rate to offset any windfall from the higher revaluations.
The school system’s current millage rate is 19.79 mills, and a full rollback would have meant the rate would have fallen back to 16.945 mills. Instead, the school board wants to tack on the extra mill to generate more tax dollars for the system.
In this economic climate, school board President Gary Bechtel said, the system didn’t have the luxury of not raising taxes.
“The picture painted is very bleak as we move into 2011,” he said. “We have to rely more on property taxes more than in the past because state contributions continue to decline.”
Board members voted 6-2 to support the tax increase. Bechtel and Susan Sipe opposed.
The increase would be $33 for an owner of a home valued at $100,000, officials said. One mill generates about $4.3 million for the school system.
The school system plans to hold three public hearings starting at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. March 2, and 5 p.m. on March 9, followed by a final adoption of the millage rate.
Ron Collier, Bibb’s chief financial officer, said the school system needs to be fiscally responsible while it searches for a new superintendent and launches a new sales tax campaign to build five new elementary schools that will require startup costs.
The school system plans to collect $76.9 million in local property taxes with the tentative millage rate.
That, along with state and federal funding, would generate $188 million in revenue for the school system’s 2010 fiscal budget. The system projects to spend $185 million.
School board members considered four different scenarios for possible millage rates. In addition to contemplating a complete rollback rate of 16.945, they also considered half-mill and 1.5-mill increases above the rollback rate.
Bibb County officials said earlier this week they propose a tax increase by adding an extra mill to cover a $1.8 million county shortfall.
The Macon City Council, however, voted this week not to roll back the millage rate at all. Mayor Robert Reichert said he wants to use some of the extra tax money to start working on a pay scale for city workers.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.