Decatur Schools – Budget Q&A

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 15, 2014
A summary of the Fiscal Year 2015 tentative budget approved by City Schools of Decatur

A summary of the Fiscal Year 2015 tentative budget approved by City Schools of Decatur

The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education on May 13 approved the system’s $51 million “tentative budget” for Fiscal Year 2015.

To see the summary of that budget, click here.

School Board members got an unexpected surprise this year. There was a 13 percent growth in the tax digest. To be more precise, its 12.7 percent, according to information provided by CSD Finance Director Susan Hurst.

The School Board asked some questions about that at the work session prior to the May 13 meeting. Hurst provided them with a list of answers, and CSD forwarded that list over to Decaturish.

Here are the questions board members asked Hurst:


Will the significant increase in revaluations now become the base moving forward?

The Tax Assessor’s Office stated that it is way too early to tell.  We know that the starting point will be the Digest that is certified in July, but we will not know the “Change in Digest” or the “Revaluation” amounts until next year at this time.

What percentage is required to be paid if a bill is contested?

The Tax Assessor’s Office will be mailing Annual Assessment Notices on May 30, 2014 and the tax payers will have 45 days to file an appeal if they disagree with the values.  The deadline appeal date will be July 14, 2014.

TEMPORARY VALUE: Georgia Law provides that when a property is under appeal it is not billed at the current year’s value, but at a temporary value until the appeal is settled. This temporary value is determined by taking the lesser of either last year’s value OR 85 percent of our current year original Notice value. If you file an appeal, your property tax bill will reflect the temporary value as described above. Once your appeal is final and the value of your property has been established, this temporary value will be removed and you will automatically be issued either a refund or an additional bill, whichever the case may be, with interest if applicable.

What collection rate will the City of Decatur use in projecting Property Tax Revenues?

For the taxes due June 2014, they are using a 94 percent collection rate.   Per Andrea Arnold, this would allow for appeals since the actual collection rates are much higher and reach well over 99percent by 12 months after billing.

NOTE:  The City is not proposing a decrease in the millage rate for next year.

Is the Commercial Property still undervalued in Decatur?

The City of Decatur does not set the values for the Commercial Property.  This is done through the DeKalb County Tax Assessor’s Office.  Ms. Arnold stated that Commercial Property owners are very aggressive with their appeals and most times win the appeal.  She also stated that there has been an increase of approximately 6 percent in Commercial Property values this past year.

Regarding the newly annexed property, what amount of property taxes will CSD receive and when should we expect to see these revenues?

Property tax revenues for the first fiscal year, which will only be the first installment for 2015, will be approximately $121,850.  Since the first installment is billed in April and collected in May, the revenues will be deferred or recognized in FY2016 for reporting purposes.

What is the value of one mill using the new tax digest amount?

One mill equals approximately $1,334,775.

The net M&O digest is $1,334,774,867 and a mill is one-thousandth of a United States dollar.

What is the rollback millage rate using the new tax digest amount and how much revenue would that generate?

The calculated rollback millage rate is 19.459 mills and would generate approximately $25,973,384.

How much would a 1percent, 2percent, and 3percent raise cost the District?

1 percent – salary and benefits $357,000

2 percent – salary and benefits $713,000

3 percent – salary and benefits $1,070,000

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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