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School board may raise millage rate
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County Board of Education will hold a special meeting later this month to discuss raising the school system’s millage rate to fill a $1.4 million budget deficit.

During Thursday’s meeting, the board approved its $258.8 million budget for the 2010-11 school year, though there is only about $257.4 million to pay for it.

A special meeting will be held June 29 to set a tentative millage rate to combat the deficit.

The current millage rate is 15.395 mills. Increasing it to 15.935 mills would generate an extra $4.4 million, officials said.

Three public hearings are required if a governing authority wishes to increase the rate.

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

School system figures show the proposed increase would equal an additional $50 on a $250,000 home or about $60 on a $300,000 home.

The extra revenue would not only fund the budget deficit, but would give the school system some wiggle room for future cuts, said finance director Dan Jones.

“If the state gives us additional cuts during the year, then that would leave us a little bit extra to cover the cuts, which I imagine is going to happen based on the way things are going right now,” Jones said.

If there are no changes to the state’s investment in education, Jones said the additional funds would be shuffled into reserves.

With no millage rate increases the past two budget cycles, the school system has dipped into its reserves to supplement the budget.

Board Chairwoman Ann Crow said staff has done a good job with the budget without impacting student achievement.

“Unfortunately, we are at the point where we cannot cut any further,” she said. “With revenues being less than expected, the route is that we have to make changes in the millage rate.”

A final decision must be given to the county by July 26 and to the state by Aug. 1.

The budget approved Thursday was similar to the tentative budget passed during a previous meeting, though the county’s projected tax digest has since dropped more than anticipated.