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Education board sets millage
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The Newton County Board of Education approved a millage rate of 20 mils for the second year in a row Tuesday, voting to approve the highest rate available to them.

The millage rate for maintenance and operations at the school system has a cap of 20 mils. However, because of the decrease in the tax digest, the millage rate for debt service must be increased from the current 1 mill to the rollback rate of 1.073.

According to Deputy Superintendent Dennis Carpenter, this increase is necessary to meet the system's debt service obligations (principal and interest on bonds that were issued in 1996 and 1997). Superintendent Gary Mathews said it may also be necessary for the school system to contribute $220,000 in Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds to meet those obligations.

The school board approved their budget on June 14 for the 2011-12 school year. The beginning fund balance (which is carried over from the 2010-11 school year) is expected to be $11,394,127 and, with local and state sources added, will likely come in at $138,630,061 for the 2011-12 school year. While that seems sufficient, with expenditures of over $131 million, it leaves an ending fund balance of just $7.4 million - and that's if there are no more cuts.

If projected expenditures and revenues remain the same for the next three school years, the school system is looking at a negative $2.3 million deficit in the 2013-14 school year.