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Barrow board to hold hearings on millage rate

WINDER - Barrow County property owners might pay more in taxes next year, despite the Board of Education's plans to keep the millage rate the same as this year.

The board will hold three public hearings to discuss the millage rate, which stands at 18.5, prior to making a final vote at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 30.

A property owner might need accounting skills to work through the maze of millage rates and rollback percentages, but the gist of the proposal is that if a property has seen an increase in value, those taxes will rise even if the millage rate remains the same.

Taxes could fall if the property owner is eligible for enough exemptions.

What is a millage rate?

Taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of a property by the millage. A mill is one-tenth of one cent.

The budget tentatively adopted by the Board of Education requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate.

What is a rollback millage?

When property is assessed and its value rises, the rollback is the amount needed to bring the value back down to the previous value. Home improvements do not count.

Barrow County's rollback rate is 18.031 and the 18.5 proposed millage rate includes a 2.6 percent increase, which is the amount above the rollback.

The schools need the money, said Ken Cato, assistant superintendent for business services, Barrow County Schools

"That 18.5 will generate more revenue because of real property growth (new buildings constructed in Barrow County) and some reassessment of current property," said Cato. "We have had a 7 percent increase in student enrollment but only had a 4.5 increase in state funding."

Barrow County schools added 798 students this school year and hired about 60 teachers, Cato said.

"Almost 70 percent of our budget goes to direct instruction, teachers, parapros, books, paper, supplies, anything that touches classroom instruction," Cato said.

School system looking

to borrow money

The board will vote on whether to authorize a tax anticipation note, meaning it will ask local banks to quote it a $5 million loan.

"We are asking all banks in Barrow County, and we expect to pay the loan back by Dec. 31," Cato said. "Once the tax notices go out, people pay their property taxes and then we have the money to pay the loan back."