Fannin County taxes are going up. The Board of Education approved their 2014 budget raising the county millage rate a full point from 12.90 mills to 13.90 mills. Along with this tax increase, $221,768 will be taken from the Capital Projects fund and moved to the General Fund. This will cover the projected shortfall and gives the county a balanced budget.
The third and final of the special called BOE public hearings to raise the millage tax was held on Wednesday the 31st. These hearings where held to get the publics input for or against the raised rate. The first two hearings where held on July 24.
The millage rate for the past five years has been at 12.90. The new millage rate required an increase in property taxes by 6.36 percent over the rollback rate. How much will this cost you? For a home with a fair market value of $125,000, you will be paying and addition $39.89 of taxes. For a non-homestead property with a fair market value of $100,000 your taxes will increase by $33.24.
During the meeting, Superintendent Mark Henson stated his regret that the increase had to come about.
“This has been a long summons….a hard summons…it has been one of those times that has caused us a lot of grief and is not something any of us wanted to do. We have rising healthcare cost, we have increased employee costs in pay steps, and we continue to see state cuts.”
Henson would go on to state,
“This is a recommendation that I never wanted to make.”
He went on to state that in the Fannin County School systems 82% of teachers have advanced degrees and 59% have 15 or more years of experience. Fannin School Systems have the highest training and experience rating in the state. With pay having to increase for experience and advanced degrees, it takes a larger budget to operate.
Fannin does have a higher than average pupil to teacher rate, but this causes the county to have a lower millage rate. Even with the increase, Fannin has one of the lowest rates of the surrounding counties. In 2012 Union county had the lowest of millage rate at 11.798. Gilmer though had a much larger millage of 17.75. The new millage rate for Fannin will now look the same as it did in 2006 before the recession came. During that year the rate was 13.95.
When the third public hearing was over, Mr. Henson made the recommendation to the board to raise the new millage rate. Board Chair Sandra Mercier brought the issue in front of the board and asked for a motion. Member Lewis DeWeese gave the first motion followed by a second from Board Member Bobby Bearden.
During the discussion the board members each had heart felt messages. The common consensus was that they wanted to keep the same level of quality education in the county. With the raising costs in healthcare and other areas, this was the only way to keep that level of excellence. Mercier added, “We are trying to hold onto the integrity of our school system.”
After the board unanimously passed the tentative budget (without the presence of Terry Bramlett,) it was put in the hands of the BOC. The BOC had to approve and put the millage increase in effect. With the BOE meeting adjourning at 6:08, The BOC had a special called meeting the same day at 6:30. During this short meeting one of the topics was accepting and unanimously adopting the new millage rate for the county.
The school board had held two prior hearings to learn more about these proposed increases last week, as detailed here.