Decatur School Board sets lower tax rate
Decatur’s School Board on July 14 set a lower tax rate than it had been considering, opting to drop the millage to 18.66 from the recommended 19 mills.
That means revenue for the upcoming year will be $29.5 million instead of $30.1 million, Finance Director Susan Hurst said.
The School Board’s decision comes as voters prepare to make a decision of their own this November: whether or not to approve borrowing $75 million school construction, and raise city school taxes by 8 percent to pay it off.
Those voters are also holding their breath when opening their tax bills. Total property values in the city increased by 20 percent over last year.
Board members said they felt they had to knock the tax rate down a little lower.
“I hope that the community understands we are pinching ourselves at lot here and we are uncomfortable,” board member Annie Caiola said. “I think sometimes discomfort is necessary, so I just hope that things play out the way we hope they will and we can make this work.”
Hurst and Edwards said the higher millage would better prepare the school system if the bond doesn’t pass this November. Both said that if the bond doesn’t pass, the system might be hit with up-front costs on portables to accommodate the expected increase in students. Current City Schools of Decatur enrollment is around 4,300 students. CSD consultants project enrollment will be more than 6,000 by 2020.
School Board member Julie Rhame asked Hurst and Edwards if they would be able to live with the lower millage. Both said that they would find a way to deal with it.
“I’m just freaked out,” Hurst said. “It’s OK.”