There was good news for taxpayers coming from the Cartersville City School Board meeting Monday night.
Board members voted 7-0 to recommend to the city of Cartersville the rollback millage rate of 14.58 mills for fiscal year 2020, provided there isn’t a significant change to the preliminary tax digest of $1,058,075,133.
The new rate is a decrease of 1.09 mills from last year’s rate of 15.67 mills.
Finance Committee Chairman Tim Chason said the recommendation is a “big recommendation for this school board and for the people who came before us.”
“We are charged, as a school board, with a few items, and one of those is to employ a superintendent, and another one is to set the millage rate for the school system and to be good stewards of the dollars of this community,” he said. “For many, many years, actually dating back to 1997, this school board has set the millage rate for the Cartersville City School System. In 1997, the first millage rate was 14.58 mills, set for this system by the school board at that time. Today, we have a recommendation from the school superintendent to the city of Cartersville to roll back our millage rate to 14.576 [mills] from last year’s rate, which was 15.67 [mills]. So we’re anticipating rolling it back a mill plus a little bit, and that’s based on the preliminary digest that has been provided to us.”
Setting the millage rate each year is a responsibility the school board takes very seriously, Chason said.
“This has not come lightly, as far as the rollback goes, and I’m going to look to the principals and the people that you represent and the administrators and the folks you represent,” he said. “All across the board, you’re the ones that have helped do this and been good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, and for that, I say thank you, and I know I probably speak for the rest of this board as well. Thank you for that.”
President Kelley Dial said board members “all try to balance a couple of things,” with the No. 1 priority being a quality education for the system’s students.
“Like I’ve said many times, we’re not about how cheap we can get somebody out of high school,” she said. “So we do always strive to give people what they need in a quality education here, and I think we are so happy that we can do that in what appears to be the lowest millage rate we’ve ever had since we set millage.”
Dial also said the board has “a lot of people to thank for that,” primarily Finance Director Richard Dyke and retired Superintendent Dr. Howard Hinesley “for his guidance through what were some very lean years when we had to raise taxes.”
“I know some school systems seem to be of the mind that they’ll take whatever money they can get while they can get it, but I think we’re trying to be mindful of providing quality education at the lowest rate we can for all the taxpayers,” she said.
Chason said the highest millage rate the school system has ever had since the board began setting it in 1997 was 18.23 mills in 2013 and 2014, and with the rollback rate this year, that’s a 3.65-mill decrease in the last five years.
During the business meeting, the board also unanimously approved purchasing stage lighting for the high school from sole bidder Barbizon Lighting Co. in Atlanta for $69,055.09, with funds coming from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Board members also ratified a bid awarded to Trane Residential Solutions in Duluth for an air conditioning system for the high school’s old gym in the amount of $20,612, also to be paid from SPLOST funds.
Also receiving unanimous approval were an out-of-state trip for the middle school band to participate in the Universal Studios STARS Performance Program March 19-22, 2020, at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, and a rental request from Oak Hill Baptist Church to use the middle school parking lot and grounds for a 5K race on Oct. 12 starting at 6 p.m. and ending at midnight on Oct. 13.