At this week’s Forsyth County Board of Education meeting,
board members unanimously approved the system’s $479 million school budget for
2020, with a tentative millage rate that is not expected to change from 2019.
After explaining to the board three minor adjustments to the proposed 2020 budget and recommending its approval, outgoing Chief Financial Officer Chris Griner told the board that his office received the final tax digest from Forsyth County last week.
According to Griner, based on the tax digest and how the 2020 school budget was built, they recommend keeping a 17.3 Maintenance and Operations millage rate and a 2.418 debt service rate.
If the tentative millage rate is approved at the July board meeting, it will be combined with the county rate of 7.936 for a total millage rate of 27.654 mills.
The county millage rate is combined with the total Forsyth County Schools rate and the state rate for the total millage rate paid by taxpayers.
The millage rate is the formula that calculates property taxes. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.
Griner said that even though the school millage rate has not changed, tax payers will likely notice an increase when notices are issued.
"When the notices go out it will show a property tax increase if the 17.3 is approved of 4.28 percent," he said. "Keep in mind that last year we were a little over 6 percent increase. That piece has come down."
He said that the overall digest for the school system grew by $1 million over the last year, 52 percent of that being from property reassessments and 48 percent from new growth.
Construction projects underway at schools across Forsyth County
At the meeting, school system Director of Construction Tom Wening presented the board with an update on construction projects that are currently underway at schools across the county.
"Construction is rapidly progressing on 12 schools, along with an additional nine elementary schools undergoing the security vestibule renovations," Wening said. "Effectively we're working on over half the campuses in the district."
Of the many projects currently in progress, he highlighted the construction at East Forsyth High School and renovations at Forsyth Central High School’s stadium.
According to Wening over the last week, foundations were laid at the future home of East Forsyth High off Jot Em Down Road and Claude Martin Drive in northeast Forsyth.
Just a month after the site’s official groundbreaking, a majority of the 90-acre site has been “cleared and filled,” he said, allowing crews to move on to the next phases of the building process.
But it hasn't all been smooth sailing. On Tuesday night, Wening reported to the board that a new challenge has been unearthed at the site – large quantities of “blast rock” which were located in the area planed for the school’s football field and parking area.
"As I’ve said over the past six years, the single biggest risk that we have as developers is geotechnical conditions underground," he said. "We zeroed in on what we thought might be a challenge for us with rock over the past two weeks ... we've got an approximate 20,000 cubic yards of blast rock in that area.”
When the final plans for East Forsyth were approved in March, site factors like significant amounts of rock were part of the system’s explanation for the new school’s hefty price tag ($72 million.)
But according to Wening, because they found the layer of blast rock early in the construction process, they have been able to adjust their plan in a cost-effective manner.
“The plan, just developed over the last couple of days still needs to be vetted, is that we're going to be raising this area of the football field and parking approximately 4 feet," he said. "The bottom-line effect is we save approximately $1.5 million ... long story short, we think that's very cost effective and maintains the schedule and progresses East Forsyth High as it should be.”
Like East Forsyth, Wening said that construction of the new stadium at Forsyth Central is well underway with foundations, below-ground installations and the stadium’s lighting systems in progress or already completed.
He said that over the next month, the stadium’s construction progress will begin to become more visible as the grand stands are erected.
"The superstructure that you'll see of the grand stands starts in mid-July and should be done at the end of August,” he said. “So, the wow factor, the pop for this particular job, that happens a lot quicker than all the tough work that happens underground."