SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - In a unanimous decision Wednesday night, the Savannah-Chatham County School Board voted to adopt the proposed millage rate and next year’s budget - which is how much homeowners pay in taxes each year to the district.
Some residents are still concerned about how much the school district is taxing residents. The board made a point to hammer home the fact that the millage rate is staying the same as last year’s - 18.881 mills - but that still wasn’t putting all minds at ease, with several people getting up in front of the board to ask for a break.
Jane Bunn was one of a handful of residents who spoke in front of the board about the millage rate and how it affects her.
“We paid our dues. Children have graduated school, college, and gone on,” she said. “So, I think after a certain age, a person should get some kind of discount.”
Bunn says the school district portion of all the local tax she pays is the bulk of her taxes.
“Taxpayers are bearing a whole lot of burden,” Bunn said. “You’ve got SPLOST, you’ve got ESPLOST, you’ve got property taxes, you’ve got property increases, you’ve got taxes coming out of income."
Money raised by the 18.881 millage rate will support increased costs associated with teacher retirement benefits, increasing cash flow reserves, and salary increases mandated by the state.
“What the public does not understand sometimes, is in order to give the $3,000 raise, there’s about an additional $1,000 per person in benefits that’s coming out of the school district. That does not come from the governor, from the state,” said Dr. Joe Buck, SCCPSS Board President.
7th District board member, Michael Johnson, explained why he thinks it’s necessary to keep the same millage rate as last year.
“I do think it’s necessary that we keep it at the same mill, just so we can make sure that our fund balance is at a point so that way we don’t have to worry about doing TAN’s again in the future. Hopefully everything works out this time around and we don’t have to worry about TAN’s this year,” Johnson said.
A $21 million tax anticipation note, or TAN, had to be taken out toward the end of last year to cover employees paychecks and other benefits.
That loan was projected to cost the district more than $100,000 in interest.
A school system spokesperson did point out that any change to property tax values is not a result of any action by the school board.