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School board approves tax hike

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.

Comments

RobFromNorcross 1 year, 3 months ago

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.

Maybe they should recognize that their citizens have taken a beating in real estate values...

Wilbanks said, the increase will "allow us to eliminate furlough days"... at a projected cost of $8.6 million

Maybe we should continue the furlough days or find the money somewhere else in the budget.

Why is the only solution for government to increase the tax rate to fund whatever they desire? Why can't they reduce spending and eliminate costs like us taxpayers have to do?

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toby 1 year, 3 months ago

I know that one............... 1) because they can 2) As more people adjust to living off of others and don't pay taxes any longer, taxes have to be raised to sustain their spending. 3) spending will never decrease They should look at history. The royal families that took care of the peasants lived happily ever after. Those who treated them like dirt, lost it all. "Keep you guns oiled and your bullets dry. You will need them one day."

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motherinduluth 1 year, 3 months ago

If the administrative costs were cut to the state level, or even better the Cobb County level as was suggested by constituents the previous furlough years, there would be money to reduce class size to previous level AND eliminate furlough days.

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jack 1 year, 3 months ago

This article doesn't mention that the board also voted to buy back its headquarters building for $52 million.

The same property they bought in 2004 for $12.5 million, sold a year later for $17 million, and have paid roughly $26 million in rent since.

But then it's always easy spending other peoples money.

Edit: just saw the companion article to this one; my apologies for posting before looking at the other headlines.

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motherinduluth 1 year, 3 months ago

Do you think maybe the school board did not want the two topics combined into one article? Maybe it's better that Increasing taxes is sent down the taxpayer throats with a spoon of sugar (Just $100 a year to support education!) instead of the soured cronyism of astronomical administrative costs, chamber salaries, and in this case a $73Million + $630,000 to "investigate" the alleged land deals for a property sold for $7 Million by the previous owners just one year prior to the original purchase.

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Veryconcernedcitizen 1 year, 3 months ago

My question is why do they need 1.7 million more to double the amount of school security guards? That is not just a one time expense. You have to pay the guards every year with benefits. Where are they going to keep finding the cash to pay for a 100% increase in their security force year after year? I agree to get rid of the furlough days for teachers. To offset that cost how about eliminating AP positions through retirements. Just eliminate one AP per cluster and you have more than enough to pay for more security with some money left over probably. I won't even get into GCPS buying back their HQ.

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motherinduluth 1 year, 3 months ago

Veryconcerned,

GCPS salaries are public record. Last time I checked, it appeared that the AP and principal salaries seemed reasonable to me. What raised my blood pressure was how much more some of the high school coaches were paid (many are in ISS (In School Suspension)) compared to other teachers, principals and APs. Also, the chamber salaries, GCPS teacher "recruiters" and other "marketing" personnel are still be retained even when there are far more qualified applicants than GCPS can even interview much less hire. There are many true "education" staff at the ISC that are doing the work of several positions but receive the same or less compensation than 5 years ago.

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Haughton 1 year, 3 months ago

Ask any RE agent in Gwinnett, houses are selling but for bottom of the barrel prices. Expect a record year of property assessment appeals. Check your neighborhood also for rentals, many who cannot afford to sell for these low prices are moving and renting their homes. Homeowners that can't sell are ignoring covenants that don't allow renters. Rental homes in a covenant or HOA controlled neighborhood can be devasting on home values.

Those new SRO's in evey cluster are needed, but they could pay for themselves if they also were used to investigate residency fraud. Type SCHOOL RESIDENCY FRAUD into your search engine and your jaw will drop at the number of school districts that are realizing that they need to protect their taxpayers - and our Students. GCPS is rife with Residency Fraud well beyond Illegal immigration. It's a well kept secret at HQ, the schools know differently - just ask.

GCPS is still spending like they have access to unlimited funds via taxpayers. Wilbanks, et al. are banking on the fact that their excellence is unstoppable and taxpayers are more than willing to hand over more money with no questions asked. Just look at every other school system around the ATL area with Failure, Scandal, and Budget woes. GCPS has built itself into a mega system that now everyone wants in on.

GCPS is Not Too Big To Fail. When Gwinnett's crowning jewel that is GCPS starts losing control of it's taxbase and previous supporters start leaving the county ...

... This is just the beginning! Wake up Gwinnett!

PS. The GCPS Board hopes that all taxpayers are enjoying vacations while they are hard at work!

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Miz_Erry 1 year, 3 months ago

Ya know, we fought the American Revolution because of taxation without representation. Every proposed tax increase, no matter how small or how large, should be voted upon by the citizens affected.

Along the same lines, how come we didn't have the opportunity to vote the Peach Pass up or down. A high occupancy lane is fine, but we didn't get to vote about the change to Peach Pass.

All this creeping taxation is like the taxes imposed by King George III - and are just as illegitimate!

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pcjohn 1 year, 3 months ago

The monetary "rat hole" that is the GCPS system will not change or even improve as long as the residents keep Wilbanks and his cabal of yes-men in power. His support of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce with student funds is a disgrace to this County.

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JW_Lawrenceville 1 year, 3 months ago

I hope this means that GCPS will stop sending my kids home with garbage to sell. Obviously, this is what the schools have needed all along!

Yeah, I know, they'll never stop. They'll rob me on my tax bill and they'll try to get me to sell garbage. Next year, the order form will be sent back with a copy of my tax bill.

"Can't afford your fundraiser, got robbed"

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Mack711 1 year, 3 months ago

Thought that the job of the schools was to educate, not have the kids raise money. My daughter brought a fund raiser home with a letter instructing the parent to take it to work and sell the items. It got so crazy at work that the company wrote a letter that said not to bring these things to work. Sent the letter in with the sales information and was told that she should go door to door. Imagine that every kid in the neighborhood was coming by trying to sell the same stuff.

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LMcDani1 1 year, 3 months ago

Why does Gwinnett County consider raising taxes when the economy is in the tank? How can school administrators who take in more than $100,000/year for doing nothing to help children get a better education feel that they deserve to mainatain their ridiculous salaries.

Our schools are in shambles. GA is on the bottom of the educational achievement of the entire United States and yet our school officials call them "schools of excellence"!

Georgia kids today can scarcely read and now handwriting isn't even being taught any more! They have virtually no discipline and few consequences for student failure to perform in academics!

Students talk back to teachers, refuse to even open books in class. and the worse: teachers teach the tests! Teachers give students answers to the test just before the student takes the test - this is so that the school will "look better".

Teachers in GA have been having "grade changing parties" to change grades from "F" to passing grades- some now have been suspended and are facing fraud charges now but how many others have gotten away with it?

Raise taxes? Absolutely NOT!! It is total hypocracy! Tax payers have been bled dry for years by the school system over the lie that more money equals better teachers - that is an absolute lie!

Reduce teacher administrator salaries 50% and teacher salaries by 20% and we will see who is truly dedicated to teaching the children and who is only motivated by money!

Re-instigate discipline in the classroom and enforce it. Right now there is no respect by the students for teachers and the teacher's hands are tied. This needs to change.

Oh, well, I could go on, but this is my opinion.

Larry M. McDaniel

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Ashley 1 year, 3 months ago

As a teacher; I know that about 20% of the students I teach are from DeKalb/Atlanta. If we kicked this group out we could along without a tax increase.

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pcjohn 1 year, 2 months ago

But tell us, Ashley, what can be done to stop it? You're in the system and maybe you'd know.

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