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No speakers at Forsyth County BOE hearing on taxes

The Forsyth County Board of Education held its first of three public hearings on its proposed millage rate, which will raise taxes slightly for some residents who have had their homes reassessed since 2015.

Though the advertised maintenance and operations millage rate of 17.3 mills remains unchanged from this school year, reassessments came in higher than expected, effectively raising property taxes for those residents.

Public hearings are required when governmental bodies or municipalities intend to raise any taxes.
“If your assessed [property] value didn’t change [this year], then your taxes won’t change,” said Nancy Roche, Board of Education representative for District 5.

Four people attended the July 7 meeting, two of whom were teenagers.

No residents spoke during the public comment period.

A millage rate is used in the formula to calculate property taxes. One mil equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, and assessed value is 40 percent of the actual market price.

Rick Gunn, the school system’s chief financial officer, explained if the board were to adopt the rollback millage rate, they would not be able to tax the value of the reassessments and would have to collect the same amount of property tax as approved for the prior year.

His staff predicted adding about $3 million to the school system’s general fund balance with this year’s property taxes.

Only about $800,000 would be added to the balance with the rollback rate, which would be no more than 16.954 mills.

With the advertised millage rate of 17.3 mills, about $4 million will be added.

The proposed 2.04 percent tax increase for a reassessed home with a fair market value of $250,000 is about $33.91, and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $250,000 is about $34.60.

“With two new schools opening this year and the anticipated costs that come with that,” Gunn said, the rollback rate would not be enough.

Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said keeping the millage rate the same is important for a second reason.

A school system’s bond rating is based off the amount of debt held and the fund balance. Accepting the rollback rate would make the fund balance dip below the threshold to receive the highest bond rating possible — the district currently has the second highest rating.

“It will save millions in future bond projects,” Bearden said.
If adopted at 17.3 mills, the district is poised to collect $161.9 million in tax funding this fall — after paying the county 2.5 percent to collect them from residents.

Residents have two remaining chances to voices the opinions or ask questions in a public forum on the proposed Forsyth County Schools millage rate — Thursday, July 21 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the school system’s central office building, located at 1120 Dahlonega Highway.

The board can adopt the rate at its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 21.