The teachers and their union, the Organiztion of DeKalb Educators, told DeKalb School Board members at a June 28 public hearing about a proposed millage rate increase, that they support the 1 mill increase that would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $27.50 more a year in property taxes.
The millage increase would raise $14.8 million in revenues for the school district.
The school board voted 5-4 on June 21 to raise taxes for the first time in 10 years.
It is facing a projected $85 million shortfall for its 2012-2013 operating budget of $760 million.
School officials blamed the projected shortfall on a 9 percent drop in assessed property values, increasing health care costs, and rising fuel and utilities expenses.
The approved budget included more than $77 million in cuts including two extra furlough days for teachers, which brings the total teacher furlough days to six for the 2012-2013 school year.
Timothy Davis, a teacher at Stone Mountain Middle School, said he is supporting the millage increase with reservations.
“The less we earn, the less we can do and that means the less taxes,” he said.
In a letter to School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson before the hearing, Arabia Mountain High PTSA presidnet Tanya Graham said the furlough days will eat into the teacher’s pay checks, costing some up to $2,000 for the year.
She asked for full public disclosure of all DeKalb County Board of Education expenditures that survived the budget cuts, especially the third party vendor contracts.
“It is about time that we citizens clearly see the entire picture of how funds will be spent in the event that the millage rate increase does not get the 5 votes necessary to pass, and additional cuts must be made,” she wrote. “Instead of possibly rescinding any new teacher contracts, the School Board just may want to consider rescinding or modifying some of those third party vendor contracts before making any further cuts to students, teachers, and schoolhouses.”
ODE president David Schutten urged the school board to move forward on the millage rate increase.
“With the layoffs, the loss of money for employees – it’s a double whammy for them,” he said.
School district chief financial officer Michael Perrone said that even with the higher millage rate, the school system will take in less money from property taxes than previously.
For 2012, the district’s 22.98 mills generated $395 million. He said the proposed 23.98 mills for 2013 will generate $365 million because of the lower assessed values of homes.
The school board will vote on the millage rate increase at its 6 p.m. meeting on July 9.
Its final public hearing into the millage incease takes place at noon that day in the Administrative and Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard in Stone Mountain.