Opinion

June 2, 2013

Whitfield school board making the right call on taxes

Whitfield County property owners took a hit last year when both the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners raised their taxes.

But school board members say they can make it without a tax hike this year, and that’s a bit of good news for county property owners.

As a story in today’s edition notes, school board members are considering a fiscal year 2014 budget that calls for $99.5 million in revenue from state funding and local property taxes and $100.3 million in expenses. The $800,000 deficit will be paid out of the school system’s $9.4 million reserve fund. That means the school system won’t need a tax increase, and four of the board’s five members have gone on record saying they don’t expect to raise taxes this year.

The school system’s fiscal year starts July 1, and school board members expect to approve a budget by the end of this month. They will set their property tax rate later this fall.

The Board of Education last year raised its property tax rate to 18.756 mills from 14.756 mills. And voters approved a 1 percent education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) that took effect Jan. 1 of this year. That raised Whitfield County’s sales tax rate to 6 percent from 5 percent and the sales tax on groceries to 2 percent from 1 percent.

Last year, the Board of Commissioners raised its property tax rate to 6.061 mills from 5.061 mills. Commissioners haven’t said yet whether they expect to raise their general property tax rate. But they will set up a special tax district this year, covering the area outside the city of Dalton.

Commissioners agreed to set up the special tax district last year when they signed an agreement dividing Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenues with the county’s four cities. The agreement followed court decisions that counties cannot tax municipal residents to fund services that go primarily to those in unannexed parts of the county.

Since the city of Dalton provides its own fire department, the county can’t fund its fire department out of general revenues. The county must also fund its share of some jointly funded services, such as the library, from the special tax district.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said in May that it looks like the county will assess a 1.5-mill tax in the special tax district. So with county taxpayers already facing one certain tax increase this year, school board members will deserve a big thanks if they hold their tax rate steady.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Successes continue at Dalton State College

    These are exciting times for our local college, Dalton State, both on campus and off.

    April 16, 2014

  • Mark Millican: The birds hushed their singing

    For the uninitiated, that line is from what many consider the greatest rock song of all time, “Stairway to Heaven,” by Led Zeppelin.

    April 15, 2014

  • Misty Watson: When blood sugar drops, anger rises

    It wouldn’t have taken 107 married couples and 21 days to figure out that being hungry makes people angry.

    April 15, 2014

  • Working for the man

    You may be one of the many Americans who will rush to file their income taxes today. But you may not yet have earned enough money to pay all of the taxes that will be imposed on you this year.

    April 15, 2014

  • Letter: The glib tongue, the fake smile

    A recent Daily Citizen column by Walter Williams will both awaken and frighten any thinking person who claims even a smidgen of knowledge about — or belief in —  either the Bible, world history or current events.

    April 15, 2014

  • College soccer team would bring local talent together

    Dreams of combining the best soccer players from all local high schools into one team finally could come true.

    April 13, 2014

  • Letter: Primaries feature many choices

    Many people are confused this year about the May 20 Election Day. Unfortunately, very few voters in Whitfield County actually go to the polls for a primary election. But this means any increase in participation can have a significant impact.

    April 12, 2014

  • Letter: Hooper for Murray chief magistrate

    Thanks to all the wonderful people and friends who backed me for District 1 Murray County Board of Education. You sure showed a lot of support. Sorry I had to step down due to my and my wife’s health. I am a lot better now.

    April 12, 2014

  • Judicial dispute could have been avoided

    Judicial elections in Whitfield and Murray counties tend to be low key. In fact, we can’t recall the last time an incumbent judge on the Conasauga Superior Court, which cover the two counties, has even faced a challenger.

    April 12, 2014

  • Citizen of the Week: Jonathan Rose

    Running for exercise is a popular hobby among many local residents, but at least one racing enthusiast plans to take his fun a step further today.

    April 11, 2014

AP Video