In what may be considered an unexpected move, the Cartersville City School Board approved a resolution Monday night that supports new legislation regarding senior school tax exemptions.
The board voted 6-0, with Ward 4 member Pat Broadnax absent, to support state Sen. Bruce Thompson's introducing a new bill that would call for a referendum allowing Cartersville residents to vote on increasing the existing school tax exemption for city homeowners who are 65 or older or totally disabled by or on Jan. 1 of a taxable year.
Under the proposed legislation, the current exemption for the first $28,000 of their homestead's assessed value would increase to $60,000 of the assessed value, with a sunset date of Dec. 31, 2027.
Reading the resolution, board President Kelley Dial said board members believe the new bill, which also is supported by state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, "offers a reasonable and balanced approach to tax sharing and responsibility in meeting community needs."
"The Cartersville City School Board ... does hereby adopt a position in support of placing Sen. Bruce Thompsons’s proposed legislation regarding the matter of an adjustment in the senior tax exemption formula for residents of the city of Cartersville on the ballot in November 2020 for an ultimate decision by the voters in the city of Cartersville," she read.
The board previously agreed to doubling the current exemption to "provide help to those who most need it while having a minimal impact on the remainder of the taxpayers" and also approved a "sunset provision for any change in the current exemption," Dial said.
At last month's meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution "opposing the specific wording" of House Bill 684, which calls for an additional exemption of 50% of the assessed value of any homestead owned by someone 65 or older, 75% for those 70 or older and 100% for those 80 and older, Dial said.
But she also said that even though the board opposes HB 684 "as currently written," the members' opposition is "not against the right to vote on a more thoughtful and researched proposal."
"Both before and after our January statement regarding the board's position on HB 684 and the general topic of increasing the senior tax exemption, Sens. Thompson and Hufstetler engaged in meaningful conversations with the Cartersville School Board," Dial said Tuesday. "After listening to our concerns about the language of HB 684 and the negative effect that specific legislation would have on our school system, Sen. Thompson, with the support of Sen. Hufstetler, proposed a scenario that would more than double the current exemption for city residents. While this is a larger exemption than we mentioned in our January statement, we feel it is one we can manage, if approved by the city of Cartersville voters, with only a small impact on the remainder of the tax base."
Dial thanked the senators on behalf of the board for "collaborating with us to reach a consensus on a ballot question."
"The proposed legislation fits into our priorities of providing quality public education for every student in our system, keeping our millage rate low for all taxpayers and giving those who need additional tax relief more assistance when we can do so," she said.
Attempts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.
School board members also awarded a number of bids Monday night.
The board unanimously accepted the sole-source quote for playground shades for the primary school from Game Time/Dominica Recreation Products Inc. in Longwood, Florida, at a cost of $33,042.34. Funds will be provided by the Parent Teacher Cooperative through local school money.
Board members unanimously approved using Ernie Morris Enterprises Inc. in Bushnell, Florida, to purchase art room furniture for the high school for $14,830.47, to remove the old student desks from the room at a cost of $9,504, to buy classroom furniture for the middle school for $311,500.60 and to remove the old furniture at a cost of $18,351.
All four purchases will be made through The Interlocal Purchasing System Contract using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
The board unanimously awarded the bid for the high school’s Valcom PA/bell/clock system refresh to NetPlanner Systems Inc. at a cost of $237,668.91.
Priority One Security in Cartersville was unanimously approved for the CCTV equipment upgrade at the primary and elementary schools, and the company extended the same pricing as the middle school upgrade in December 2018. This price will be honored for one calendar year beginning Feb. 5, 2020.
Board members unanimously approved rental requests from Bartow Family Resource Center for the middle school grounds and parking lot for the 5K Glow Run on March 28 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; from Atlanta Quest in Marietta for the high school gym, band room and school grounds for Friday, Saturday and Sunday rehearsals for a nonprofit music education program Jan. 10 to April 12; from Superintendent Dr. Marc Feuerbach and his wife, Rebekah, for the primary school gym on Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. for the Mother-Son Dance to support Dances With the Stars; and from Dr. Tharis Word for the middle school cafeteria and kitchen for his military retirement after 33 years on Dec. 12 from 4 to 7 p.m.
An overnight trip for the high school’s Future Business Leaders of America to attend the State FBLA Leadership Conference in Atlanta March 20-21 also was unanimously approved.
Recognitions included staff members, teachers and students.
CPS and CES school resource officer Sarah Barnes, who was killed in a vehicle crash Jan. 30, was remembered during a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting.
The board recognized Jennifer Konen, instructional technology specialist at the primary school, as the Matthew Hill-Michael Dean HEARTS Employee of the Month for February.
She received a $50 gift card to Appalachian Grill from New Frontier of Bartow County Inc. and had her name added to a perpetual plaque displayed in the central office board room.
Dial presented certificates to CHS senior Sam Dellaporta, who will be representing the school district in the Georgia Student Technology Competition in March, and school resource officer Cpl. Daniel Veiga Sr., who is taking a new position in the private sector after serving eight years at the middle and high schools.
Feuerbach also recognized counselors Carol Apple, Rachel Ennis, Teresa Lovingood, Lori Roger, Ashley Jackson, Megan Boudrie, Stephanie Pate, Chaja Pinkard and Alexis Pritchard in honor of National School Counseling Week.