October 4, 2013

Dalton school board holds line on taxes

Dalton taxpayers got a bit of good news this week when the Board of Education voted to hold its property tax rate steady. The school system’s tax rate will remain 7.845 mills this year.

But Dalton residents could be facing a significant tax increase next year.

An estimate for fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1, 2014, projects about $64 million in revenue and $75 million in expenses for the school system. If that forecast holds, the school system would not only exhaust the $6.08 million remaining in its “rainy day” fund, it would either have come up with about another $5 million, cut that much money from its budget or make some combination of its cuts and tax increases totaling $5 million.

Some residents have complained that the school system would be in better fiscal shape if the board hadn’t voted to spend some $1.35 million on a new turf practice field and track. Board members say the track was in poor condition and needed to be renovated and that even if they had foregone that work the school system would still be looking at future tax increases.

That may be true, but spending that much money reduced the size of the rainy day fund, making it more likely that the school system will need a larger tax increase than it might have needed otherwise.

Still, taxpayers avoided an increase for at least another year. That’s good news.

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