Aug. 30 – The Whitfield County Board of Education voted 5-0 on Monday to keep the property tax rate at 18.756 million for the 10th straight year.
“I recommend that we leave the millage rate where it is,” said Superintendent Mike Ewton.
With a property tax rate of $ 18.756 million, the school system predicts revenue of $ 28.5 million, said Kelly Coon, chief financial officer. This is in line with the number set in the 2022 budget approved by the school board this summer. The fiscal year began on July 1st.
The budget for fiscal 2022 is estimated general fund income of $ 125.9 million and approximately $ 127.2 million in general fund expenses. The projected overall fund balance at the end of fiscal 2022 is approximately $ 31.4 million.
That $ 28.5 million figure assumes a 97% collection rate, however, and there are other variables as well, Coon said. There are currently “160 appeals (to the tax office) with a value in dispute of 40% of 80.5 million dollars for the school districts”.
“There’s a lot going into tax collection,” she said. “These are just black and white numbers (I’m presenting today).”
To calculate the tax bill, you can take the estimated value of a home, which, according to Coon, is 40% of the market value. A grinder is equal to $ 1 for every $ 1,000 of the estimated value, and then the resulting number is multiplied by the property tax rate for the final total.
So for a home valued at $ 150,000, the tax bill would be $ 1,125 at a property tax rate of $ 18,756 million.
A tax hike only applies “if your neighborhood has been re-evaluated this year,” she said. “If your property has not been revalued, your tax bill will not increase.”
Although the rate will stay at 18,756 million for an additional year, state law requires that this be advertised as a tax hike because, according to Whitfield County Schools, the state measures against the “rollback rate” rather than the actual previous year rate. The rollback rate is calculated by subtracting any increase in the tax digest due to new assessments. Without the increase, the property tax rate would not be more than 18.461 million.
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Earlier last week, Whitfield County Schools introduced a mask mandate for students and staff in schools when social distancing is not an option – parents can shut their children off though – and “overall, it went smoothly,” Ewton said. “We hope it makes a difference in cases, yes, but even more so in quarantines.”
Last week Whitfield County Schools reported 28 cases of COVID-19 among staff, the highest number so far this school year. There were 134 student cases, including most of the first three weeks of this school year.
If everyone in a group wears a mask, only the person who tested positive for COVID-19 needs to be quarantined, not their surroundings, unless they have COVID-19 symptoms, Ewton said. While “some” of those exposed to someone with COVID-19 also develop COVID-19, “most don’t” and by mandating masks, the school system can quarantine more students at school instead of at home.
Multiple studies from the 2020-21 school year show that wearing masks in schools is an effective prevention strategy, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated in July. However, if wearing the mask is inconsistent, breakouts can occur, and that’s even more likely with the more contagious Delta variant this year.
Vaccinated students and staff at Whitfield County Schools who are exposed to COVID-19 but remain asymptomatic also do not need to be quarantined. Currently, adolescents aged 12 and over can be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The school board also voted 5-0 to spend $ 94,943 on playground equipment from Great Southern Recreation, based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the former North Whitfield Middle School, as that building will begin in January after the holidays, North Star- To accommodate students.
The equipment is designed for special needs students who include the North Star program, Ewton said. The “50-60” students from Dalton Public Schools, Murray County Schools, and Whitfield County Schools in North Star were housed at Morris Innovative High School, but Dalton Public Schools closed and opened that high school at the end of the 2020-21 school year The Dalton Academy for the school year 2021/22.
Whitfield County Schools built a new North Whitfield Middle School near Edwards Park that was open to students for the 2021-22 school year. They will take up about a third of the building, another third of the building will eventually be demolished, and the fate of the last third has yet to be clarified.
“There’s no decision on that yet,” said Ewton. “We have our petrol pumps” on this campus for operations in the north of the district, one of three locations for petrol pumps in the district, so the location itself is of strategic importance for the school system.
The North Star program is aimed at students ages kindergarten through high school who need more therapy than can be delivered in a typical classroom, said Karey Williams, assistant principal. As a percentage, the majority of students at North Star come from Whitfield County Schools.
School board members also voted 5-0 to spend $ 30,995 on 15 two-stage water coolers and filters from Ferguson Enterprises, based in Newport News, Virginia.
“These are for the 15 schools that don’t already have these water coolers and filters,” said Ewton. “We are using (federal) CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding.”