Dissenting, approving opinions expressed at hearing for millage rate increase
by Cheree Dye
Jul 24, 2014 | 1677 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eight Bartow County residents spoke at Tuesday night’s public hearing regarding the tentative millage rate increase proposed by the Bartow County School Board. Each resident is allowed to speak for three minutes and is limited to speaking only once. The board nor the superintendent respond to any of the comments made by the individuals. If anyone asks a specific question, the rules delineate a written response will be emailed to the individual who requested the information. However, none of the speakers chose to request information.

Louis DeBroux began the evening with listing his reasons for opposing the millage rate increase from the current 17.9 mills to 19.4 mills.

“My property valuation went up $30,000 this year and I have talked to a number of people who have seen their valuations rise by [$50,000] to $100,000,” DeBroux said. “On top of that we have already seen a millage rate increase last year and we’ve already been hit by tax increases from the county. If the proposed tax increase of almost 15 percent passes, my tax increase will be almost $500 alone. This does not include the fact that we have seen increases in our water and sewer rate. The taxpayers will have to work longer hours and take time away from their families to pay for this increase.”

Mack Roberts, retired educator of the Bartow County School System, shared his approval for the rise in the millage rate.

“I realize that this is not a popular thing to do, but I also understand for five to six years there has been a continuous cut in services of the schools by our board and I think they have been necessary. While I am just as strong a Republican as the next and just as conservative, I can promise you that I can’t stand my money being spent unnecessarily in any government but I can tell you that any tax increase I would approve of has to be predicated by strong cuts. Cuts that this board has already made over the past five or six years I have watched teacher after teacher leave our system, quality teachers because they can be paid 10, 15, $20,000 more in an adjoining system. I can tell you our programs have been cut and cut and cut.

“At one time I had $6,000 a year to operate the band at Cass High. For the past five years that budget is down to $300. Any band program or any other program cannot continue to operate without having the money. ... I don’t like tax increases but I have spent my entire life giving to kids and right now I will give.”

Bruce Poore spoke against the millage rate increase as well.

“I own two homes in Bartow County. Both homes have had tax increases of 33 percent. I have appealed those valuations to the county and gotten additional information on where they got their information to raise the valuation on my homes and in the one home there was six comps used but only one went up 10 percent, the rest of them went down by anywhere from 20 to 36 percent. So it appears that the county is taking numbers right out of the air in order to make rate increases on homes.

“Also, pertaining to the rate increase in the school board, there could be some expenses looked at and reduced in order to reduce the need for cash flow.”

In a previous meeting, Superintendent Dr. John Harper presented the school board with a list of eliminated positions and the financial impact to the system due to the cuts. One example highlighted was the associate superintendent position, which was eliminated four years ago. The salary for the position was $117,508 per year, and along with Federal Insurance Contributions Act, Medicare and Teacher Retirement Savings expenses, the total savings to the system over a four-year period was $563,709.

The following details the cuts made to the BCSS over the previous 12 years. Due to space limitation, the amount the system paid for Social Security, Medicare and Teacher Retirement Savings have not been directly listed in a column but are included in the amount listed under Total Savings.

The list is organized by position, years since elimination, salary, total savings:

• Associate Superintendent, four, $117,508, $563,709;

• Elementary Curriculum Coordinator, six, $78,334, $563,675;

• Director of Student Services, three, $104,348, $375,433

• MS Curriculum Coordinator, four, $105,762, $507,361;

• CTAE Coordinator, four, $90,849, $435,820;

• (2) Special Ed Coordinators, five, $98,635, $591,464;

• Director of School Improvement, four, $105,265, $504,977.26;

• RTL/SST Coordinator, four, $83,792, $401,966;

• (2) Social Workers, five, $96,173, $576,701;

• Speech Pathologist, four, $48,603, $233,158;

• STARS Pre-K Principal, three, $82,021, $295,103;

• Assistant School Nutrition Director, four, $70,461, $338,015;

• Curriculum Administrative Assistant - Secondary, four and a half, $32,945, 201,991;

• Construction & Facilities Administrative Assistant, four, $45,516, $269,832;

• Accounting Clerk, five, $35,267, $236,644;

• Front Dest Receptionist, four, $23,297, $134,973;

• Director of Construction, four, $99,899, $502,448;

• Human Resources Specialist, four, $45,516, $241,562;

• Special Education Clerk, four, $30,698, $170,477;

• (2) Technology/Network Specialist, 12, $77,503, $1,169,628;

• Bus Mechanic, two, $64,941, 169,997;

• Maintenance Coordinator, four, $61,990, $320,591;

• Central Office Custodian, three, $13,876, $69,582;

• (2) School Resource Officers, 10, $63,465, $811,466;

The total reduction in costs since the cuts began is $8,774,010.