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UPDATE: Documents on school tax exemption law found
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UPDATE: Staffers at the state archives were able to locate results of a December 15, 1965 referendum that increased the school millage rate cap from 20 mills to 30 mills, with 367 votes for the increase and 247 votes against.

Check back to for more, or click on documents above to see 1965 results.


(June 21, 11:43 p.m.) Local and state officials are still looking for the law that exempts Rockdale County from the state constitutional limit requiring a referendum for school taxes higher than 20 mills. Rockdale's school portion of the property tax is currently 22.99 mills and has been over 20 mills since 1990.

On Thursday, before the Rockdale County School Board adopted a budget that would require a 1.51 mill increase in the school tax rate, Rockdale residents asked the school board to produce the documentation that recorded the county’s exemption. Before the school board went into executive session, school attorney Jack Lance referred to local legislation passed in the state General Assembly in 1983.

However, Tax Commissioner Dan Ray said Tuesday evening at the South Rockdale Civic Association meeting that officials were still looking for the records granting the school board that authority.

“I’ve been involved this week in trying to help the Board of Elections, school board, County Commissioners, Probate. All of us have been involved in trying to track down the legislation or referendum or whatever authority the school board has to exceed the 20 mill cap,” said Ray. Other people also involved in the search included County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge, District 109 state Rep. Steve Davis, and Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch.

“My knowledge was from one of my previous employees, Betsy Turner, who was around at that time and a past school board member," he said. "What she told be was some time in the middle 60’s was that Clarence Vaughn got it passed.”

Ray began looking from 1968 and backwards after talking with retired school superintendent Charles Kennedy, who recalled the law being in place by the time he started as superintendent in January 1968.

“The school board finally found some minutes dated October 26, 1965, where they called upon the Ordinary, now the Probate Judge, to call a referendum," said Ray. "On December 15, 1965, there was an article in the Rockdale Citizen that said the vote passed 2-1 with a small turnout, as you could expect in the middle of the winter with a special election.”

However, the 1965 book of Georgia Code was reportedly missing from the Rockdale County law library. Ray said  Welch would go to the state Archives at the Capitol on Thursday when it opened to look for the original document.

Ray said he was struck by how similar the issues and struggles were back then to what was going on now.

“Wasn’t enough money, they needed to buy some busses, they needed to buy some land to build some schools. They needed to get a bond referendum.

"It was really comical as to how similar it was. It’s just the numbers have gotten bigger. They were talking about borrowing $450,000. Now it would be $4.5 million.”


Rockdale Co Referendum Tax Millage 12-15-1965