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BOE approves millage rate decrease

COVINGTON, Ga. - Newton County Board of Education voted 4-1 to decrease the 2019-2020 milage rate to 19.788. 

During July 23 BOE special called meeting for the tmillage rate rollback hearing, Erica Robinson, NCSS executive financial manager, gave a presentation for the FY20 millage rate. Robinson gave a rundown of the 12-year history of the Newton County's maintenance and operation tax digest, beginning from 2009, to show the county's progress.

In the presentation, Robinson compared the current millage rate of 20 to the proposed millage rate of 19.788 for FY20. The presentation showed that gross revenue would be $56.5 million for 20 mils and $55.9 million for 19.788 mils. 

The difference between the two gross revenues is $600,000.

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The 12-year history of Newton County's maintenance and operations tax digest. - photo by Submitted Photo

In May 2019, the BOE was relieved from paying fees for health benefits due to a tax holiday, a government incentive program that offers a tax reduction or elimination to businesses. BOE had a savings of $600,000 to the general fund due to the tax holiday.

The millage rate of 19.788 allowed the BOE to pass the savings on to the community.

Newton residents can expect to see a decrease in the school’s portion of property tax in FY20 due to the approved decrease in the millage rate. 

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In Newton County, the average home value is $175,000, and home owners are taxed 40% of their home value. Using these sample numbers, home owners will see a $14 decrease in paid taxes for FY20. - photo by Submitted Photo

Samantha Fuhrey, NCSS superintendent, recommended the adoption of the millage rate of 19.788 for FY20 during the July 23 special called meeting for the millage rate.

District 1 Trey Bailey, District 3  Shakila Henderson-Baker, District 4 Chair Almond Turner and District 5 Vice-Chair Abigail Coggin voted in approval of the proposed millage rate. 

"I'm hesitant to reduce the rollback rate too much," Coggin said. "I would like to just see us go down in small increments, so I think the 19.788 is a good start. Next year, I would love for us to go down some more if at all possible."

"Whatever we can do to help right now, we should," Bailey said.

District 2 Eddie Johnson voted against the proposed millage rate decrease, stating that the savings should go back to the school for air-conditioned buses and salaries for teachers.

"I think we have an obligation to pay our employees a competitive wage," Johnson said. He added, "By reducing those rates, it puts us in a vulnerable position, and we're making a statement that we don't need any additional funds other than what we got."

Henderson-Baker gave her remarks last before voting took place. She said, "We have more citizens than we have teachers in our school system. The citizens have always been good to the school system [...] and I think, because they make sacrifices for us to support us 100%, that we should do the same as our obligation, as our due diligence."