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Newton school board considering reducing tentatively approved tax rate
2021 school board officers
From left are vice chairman Trey Bailey and 2021 chairwoman Abigail Coggin receiving the gavel from 2020 chairwoman Shakila Henderson-Baker and Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey in January. - photo by Special to The Covington News

Public hearings on the school board property tax rate are scheduled for:

• Aug. 17 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

• Aug. 24 at 6 p.m.

The location will be the Newton County Board of Education at 2109 Newton Drive in Covington. 

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County Board of Education reportedly is considering reducing its property tax rate despite approving a tentative rate that was needed to approve the 2022 budget in June.

Board spokeswoman Sherri Partee said board members have discussed decreasing the tentatively approved rate of 19.788 mills which, if left in place, would produce more revenue this year because of an increase in assessed property values countywide compared to last year.

Partee said the board will not set the final millage rate for 2022 until Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. — after public hearings scheduled for Aug. 17 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. 

The 19.788-mill rate is the same property tax rate for Newton schools as the previous three years. However, the state government by law defines it as a tax increase because a 14% increase in assessed property values countywide in the net tax digest this year would increase the tax levy on property owners by the same amount compared to last year.

The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $200,000 is approximately $171.99 and the proposed tax increase for nonhomestead property with a fair market value of $175,000 is approximately $143.57, according to school system calculations.

The tentatively approved rate is 2.051 mills higher than the rollback rate of 17.737 mills that would produce the same amount of revenue as last year if there were no increase in assessments. 

The tentative rate is calculated to fund a $201.2 million budget for 2022 the board approved June 22 after they used $12 million in reserves to balance it. 

However, the board approved the budget June 22 so it could go into effect on July 1. Because the final county tax digest had not been released on June 22, the board based the budget numbers they approved on a tax digest estimate lower than the recently announced final digest amount — meaning more revenue may be available.

This year's net tax digest is $3.47 billion, which is a 14.5% increase from $3.02 billion last year. 

The net tax digest is the total of assessed values of all real property in the county after all exemptions are removed. Real property is generally defined as land and buildings. 

Properties owned by the government, school systems and churches are among those exempted from property taxes by law.

Newton County's tax digest has increased 60% in five years since the 2016 digest totaled $2.16 billion.

The public hearings on the property tax rate, also known as the millage rate, and the regular meeting are set for the board room at the Newton County Board of Education Administrative Offices at 2109 Newton Drive in Covington.

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