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BOE’s millage rate up for review

Decreases in state education funding coupled with a shrinking Decatur County property tax digest is causing the Decatur County Board of Education to reevaluate the millage rate for the 2011 fiscal year.

Already faced with shortfalls from state allocations, the school system’s funding from local sources also has decreased because of shrinking property values in the county. The net taxable property values in Decatur County decreased 4 percent, or $30.5 million, from last year. The majority of that decrease resulted from sinking values of agricultural and conservation tracts of property.

The school system levied a millage rate of 12.71 last year. That rate resulted in just over $11 million in property tax revenue. The same rate in 2011 would result in a $388,000 decrease in property tax revenue.

At the Thursday night meeting of the Decatur County Board of Education, new superintendent Fred Rayfield’s first, the board was presented with several scenarios relative to establishing a property tax millage rate for 2011.

In addition to keeping the rate the same at 12.71, three options would see an increase in the rate, from a low of 12.99, which is the rollback rate, a rate of 13.17, which would generate the same amount of revenue as in 2010, and a one mill increase to 13.71, which would result in a $449,000 increase in local property tax revenue.

Georgia law requires that a rollback rate be computed that would produce the same total revenue of the current year’s digest that last year’s millage would have produced had no reassessments occurred. Because the digest decreased, the rollback rate actually would produce a higher millage rate.

The board decided to meet again in a special called meeting on July 27 to discuss further the 2011 budget and the 2011 local property tax millage rate.

Software causing problems

In other business, Technology Director Steve Dunn informed the board that a new student information computer software system had be purchased and installed after the previous system did not meet the needs of the county.

There have been difficulties with student report cards, class schedules and grade transcript retrieval with the CrossPointe product. The school system purchased the software program at a cost of $230,000 and used it roughly 10 months.

“CrossPointe did not work out, we gave them a change and we had to turn them loose,” said Dunn. “But, the company has agreed to refund our money.”

Dunn indicated that discussions are still taking place on how and when the purchase price of the CrossPointe system will be refunded. The new system, produced by Infinite Campus, will cost the system $88,298 initially with a $49,298 annual renewal.