Two citizens speak at school board hearing

Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes asked Elizabeth Hunt to wait just a moment while she reset a timepiece to a five-minute limit.

But Hunt, who spoke at the last Gilmer County Charter School System public hearing before the board set their property tax rate, was almost through in five seconds.

“I wish to express a concern about increased taxes,” she said. “Oftentimes, increasing the rates don’t always yield increased revenues.”

The tax rate of 16.62 is  projected to increase the district’s revenue by nearly $740,000. 

After she sat down, Hunt asked, “Would our comments have made any difference?”

Chairman Jim Parmer began to answer, but Hunt spoke again and told the board she was only able to attend the hearing because she had another appointment that took her away from work.

Wilkes told Hunt the hearings were held in the morning and evening hours to try and accommodate the public.

Another citizen, Mike King, wanted to know if the tax increase was linked to the county “buying something” because of an unexpected expense.

Parmer answered, “I’ve been in education a long time, and every year it costs more, just like your house costs more (in taxes). 

“What we’re trying to do is leave the millage rate the same as the last few years ... every year we’ve kinda been scraping by. So this is a way ...”

“(To keep from) Dipping into the fund balance,” Wilkes interjected.

“We want the best quality education for our students in Gilmer County,” Parmer said. 

“This is one way to help, but it won’t solve every problem.” 

King asked about property assessments, and Parmer told him there was a separate county office for that.

King said he’d “come to the wrong meeting” and laughed.

Before the hearing began, Wilkes briefly explained reassessments, tax digests and how a rollback millage rate that “must produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.”

“However, since this millage rate exceeds the calculated rollback millage rate, it is deemed a tax increase for 2016,” she said, adding the state requires three public hearings before any action can be taken. 

The board voted almost unanimously to keep the property tax rate at 16.62 mills for the 2016 digest. 

Board member Angela Thomas was not in attendance.

Times Courier

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