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Hearings set on tax hike for Forsyth County Schools

What’s next

Residents can share their opinions on the proposed tax increase with the Forsyth County Board of Education at three upcoming public hearings:

* July 1 at 6 p.m.

* July 16 at 9 a.m.

* July 16 at 5 p.m.

All three hearings will be held at the school system’s central office, 1120 Dahlonega Highway.

FORSYTH COUNTY — Proposed increases in teacher salaries and school taxes have been approved by the Forsyth County Board of Education, pending the approval of a higher millage rate.

The board tentatively has agreed to a rate of 17.3 mills, which would amount to an increase in property taxes of 11.7 percent, according to the school system’s chief financial officer, Dan Jones.

Three public hearings must be held before the board makes a final vote in July. It would be the first school tax increase since 2011.

The tentative plan would result in an increase of 1.812 mills. Without it, the millage rate would be no higher than 15.488 mills.

A mill, the rate used to calculate taxes, is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. Assessed value is 40 percent of actual market value.

The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $250,000 would be about $177, Jones said.

For a non-homestead exempted property with a fair market value of $250,000, the increase would be about $181.

After a commission — the school system has to pay the county 2.5 percent to collect taxes — the district would receive $154.1 million in tax funding this fall. Last year, that figure was $129.6 million.

If approved at the board meeting July 16, it would be part of the $346.2 million budget for fiscal year 2016, which includes a 2 percent pay raise, step increases and cost-of-living adjustments for teachers and all eligible employees.

Spending on instruction is expected to rise by 7.5 percent from 2015, nearly 90 percent of which covers salaries and benefits.

The current year’s budget gave a step increase and nixed the three remaining furlough days. In 2014, pay was increased by 2 percent with a 1 percent increase the prior year.

In addition to salary increase for existing teachers, funding 124 new positions — including 94 teachers, 12 bus drivers, 10 paraprofessionals and five assistant principals — will cost $9.1 million in pay and benefits.

About $3 million will go toward health care plans for non-certified employees — bus drivers and cafeteria workers — who are no longer covered by the state.

The district expects to spend $87.5 million in capital outlay during this budget cycle, which includes construction and renovation projects on new and existing schools.