SUWANEE -- In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the board of education voted to hike the millage rate by 1.30 mills over the previous year.
For the owner of a $150,000 home in Gwinnett County, it means an increase of $76 over the previous year's school property taxes. For those who escrow property tax, it would mean an additional $6.33 per month.
School board chairwoman Carole Boyce said that increasing taxes is "not an easy task, but it's something we've held off on for quite some time."
Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said the action was needed in order to combat a declining tax digest as well as generate revenue needed to meet debt service payments.
In addition, Wilbanks said, the increase will "allow us to eliminate furlough days ... and increase the number of school resource officers."
The fiscal year 2014 budget includes recommendations for the addition of 18 SROs: one for every cluster.
The elimination of all furlough days is projected to cost $8.6 million, while the additional school resource officers is estimated to cost about $1.7 million.
The measure Thursday night was passed following two work sessions and two public hearings over the past several months discussing the millage rate and fiscal year 2014 budget.
A unanimous vote during May's board of education meeting meant formal approval of a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2014.Measures recommended by the superintendent to balance the budget included the following: continuation of a district-level hiring freeze, no restoration of the 54 central office positions eliminated during FY 2013, continuation of district-level operating budget cuts from the past four years, carryover expenditures included in the FY 2013 mid-term budget, and class-size ratios for teacher "point" allotments will remain the same for the 2013-14 school year.Thursday night's millage rate increase was the first in eight years.
The debt service fund increased by .75 mills, while the maintenance and operations portion increased by .55.
The total 1.30 increase puts the school board's millage rate at 21.85.