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School board OKs millage rate increase
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IN BRIEF: The Rockdale County Board of Education approved setting the millage rate at 24.5 mils, or about 1.5 mils more than last year, in a 5-2 vote during Tuesday evening's called meeting.

The 24.5 mil rate would bring in about $1.5 million less, or 2.7 percent, than last year due to falling property values. The net digest for the school system fell about 8.6 percent from last year.

The budget that was adopted back in June was based on a 1.5 mil rate increase. The millage rate is normally adopted around July after the tax digest is calculated, but changes in the tax assessment process caused a delay in the tax digest calculations for this year.

Members Don McKinney and Jim McBrayer voted against and ChairmanWales Barksdale and members Darlene Hotchkiss, Brad Smith, Jean Yontz and Katrina Young voted for it.

Previously, Young had voted against budget options that would require a 1.5 mil increase, along with McKinney and McBrayer.

Young said she changed her mind after looking at the numbers.

"It's about the kids," she said, after the meeting. "It was keeping teachers from having the furlough days. Also, more people could help pay for the education of our students."

"To have a good educational system, you've got to pay for it," she said.

McKinney said during the meeting, "I just can't see, in times like it's been, that I could have voted to increase it. I could have voted to leave it like it was. I think it sends the wrong message. There's people out there hurting."

Barksdale pointed out this millage rate allowed the school system to have no furlough days this year.

Hotchkiss added, "What is out of our control is still up at the Capitol."

Finance Director Lee Davis said Governor Deal asked other state departments to cut 2 percent but education has been exempt from that request for now.