Budget and Finance
Dalton Public Schools’ five major funds are the General Fund, Special Funds, School Nutrition Funds, Capital Funds, and Debt Service with the General Fund of $100 million being the primary source of revenues and expenditures. The Special Funds are $8 million and make up most of the district’s Federal and State grants. The School Nutrition Funds are nearly $7 million. The Capital Fund dollar amounts can vary depending upon the availability of resources and the particular projects in progress. Most of the Capital Fund projects are financed with an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) that may be augmented with General Fund resources from time to time. The district has built Hammond Creek Middle School for 6th and 7th grade students. This was funded through the voter approved General Obligation (GO) bond from the November 2017 referendum. Currently, the district has two Debt Service obligations. The first one is a five year Revenue bond of $16 million through the City of Dalton Building Authority that will be paid with ESPLOST VI funds. The second obligation is a 30 year GO bond of $40 million that is currently paid with both ESPLOST and property taxes using a separate millage rate.
General Fund Revenues
The district receives about 60 percent of General Fund revenues from state sources, 38 percent from local property taxes, and 2 percent from other local and federal sources.
Dalton Public Schools property tax base is 71 percent industrial and commercial property, 28 percent residential, and 1 percent motor vehicles. The Freeport exemption of 20 percent on commercial and industrial inventory is an economic incentive intended for commercial and industrial growth was implemented in 2011. In 2011 the loss of local property tax revenue that was attributable to the Freeport exemption was $700,000. For 2023, the same 20 percent Freeport exemption is a loss of around $1.3 million in local property tax revenue.
The Dalton Board of Education held the millage rate steady for 6 years, 2009-2014, at 7.845 mills and cut expenses as needed. All the while, the district’s student enrollment continued to grow putting pressure on class size, program offerings, resources, and services. In 2015, the board approved its first millage rate increase in 10 years to 8.20 mills to meet the educational needs of Dalton students. In fiscal year 2022, the board rolled back the millage rate to 8.095 mills. In fiscal year 2023, the board approved another rollback of 8.09 mills.
General Fund Expenditures
Salary and benefits are about 84 percent of the district’s expenditures. Therefore, with an economic decline, the district has tough financial choices, including eliminating positions, implementing work calendar reductions for both students and staff, and scaling back programs.
The board and district administration continue to be good stewards of financial resources. The quality of academic and supporting programs remains strong and the district remains sensitive to cuts that directly affect classroom instruction.
Each year since 2011 from the last recession, the board has approved adding positions to address growing enrollment and program needs throughout the district and expenditures have increased accordingly. As financial resources became available, additional days have been added to students and staff calendars, and full-calendar restoration was in place beginning in 2017. By 2019, the board was able to restore class sizes and begin making improvements to the local teacher salary scale. Dalton Public Schools is committed to maintaining appropriate resources to ensure educational excellence while being responsive and respectful to the local economy and community.
Dalton Public Schools Property Taxes
The Dalton Board of Education has tentatively approved to reduce the operating millage rate to 8.00 mills from 8.09. This would be the third consecutive year to reduce the operating millage rate which was at 8.20 mills in the 2020 year.
The digest shows growth of 21.69 percent. This growth is the highest change in property values in one year for Dalton when looking back over the last 20 years. During the housing bubble in 2007 and 2008, City of Dalton property values grew 7 percent in both those years. By reducing the millage rate to 8.00 mills, change in city school taxes is 20.34 percent or $6 million in tax revenue for the school district.
The board approved a $102 million fiscal year 2024 General Fund budget. Budgeted expenditures exceeded the budgeted revenues of $95 million by $7 million. The General Fund budget assumed there would be 8 percent growth in local property revenues which would increase property tax revenue by $2.6 million. The additional growth in property values with the reduced millage rate improves school district revenue by $3.5 million which would result in using $3.5 million of the available fund balance for the operation of the school district for the next year.
The improved property tax revenue and preservation of the available fund balance will be financially important in the future fiscal year 2025. In fiscal year 2023, Georgia school districts experienced a 67 percent increase in the employer contribution for health insurance for teachers and other certified employees. Although the school district receives state funding to cover some of those cost increases, the district employer health insurance costs exceeded state funding by $900,000. For non-certified personnel, the increased employer contribution toward health insurance will be phased in over a three year period. For fiscal year 2025, Dalton Public Schools finance staff anticipates another $800,000 increase in costs for non-certified employees that would not covered by state formula funding.
Dalton Public Schools fiscal year 2024 General Fund budget adds instructional positions to support the enrollment growth within district programs. Additionally, the one-time federal funding in response to the coronavirus pandemic is expiring, and the district absorbed a portion of those positions added into the General Fund operating budget.
The City of Dalton property owners will also see a reduction in the debt service millage rate to 0.46 mills from 0.56 mills as a result of the increase in property values. The debt service millage is for the General Obligation Bond approved by the voters in 2017 for the new Hammond Creek Middle School. Hammond Creek Middle School for 6th and 7th grade students, in conjunction with a grade configuration change, helped to reduce the large enrollment at the secondary level schools.
Historically, the school millage was 8.70 mills in 2005. At that time the board was able to decrease the millage rate over a four-year period to 7.845 mills. The board held the millage rate at 7.845 mills for six years during the previous recession even though the number of students being educated by Dalton Public Schools grew by 14 percent. In fiscal year 2015, the board approved to increase the millage to the rate of 8.20 mills as it took steps in restoring instructional positions and programs to meet the needs of students.
NOTICE OF PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
Dalton Public Schools has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will require an increase in property taxes by 12.74%.
All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on this tax increase to be held in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 300 West Waugh Street, Dalton, Georgia on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 at 6:30 PM.
This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 8.00 mills, an increase of 0.904 mills. Without this tentative increase, the millage rate will be no more than 7.096 mills. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $125,000 is approximately $113.00 and the proposed tax increase for a non-homestead property with a fair market value of $600,000 is approximately $519.80.
Dalton Public Schools
The City of Dalton Board of Education does hereby announce that the millage rate will be set at a special board meeting to be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 300 West Waugh Street, Dalton, GA on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 at 6:30 pm. Pursuant to the requirements of O.C.G.A. 48-5-32, the Board of Education does here publish the following presentation of the current year's tax digest and levy, along with the history of the tax digest and levy for the past five years.
City of Dalton Board of Education
Certified 2023 Tax Digest and Five Year History of Levy
*You have difficulty viewing the following table on a mobile device. If any part appears cut off, try accessing this page on a computer.
|Real and Personal||3,855,127,959||3,922,809,028||3,933,995,350||3,851,707,881||4,002,272,865||4,847,414,260|
|Heavy Duty Equipment||62,960||0||91,953||18,878||0||61,755|
|Less M&O Exemptions||324,560,279||329,687,205||340,039,161||324,392,155||351,150,162||399,297,265|
|Net M&O Digest||3,580,372,063||3,635,201,925||3,633,521,469||3,554,636,336||3,676,219,748||4,473,545,780|
|Mandated State QBE Tax||2.000||2.000||2.000||2.000||2.000||2.000|
|Total M&O Millage||8.200||8.200||8.200||8.095||8.090||8.000|
|Net Levy (Amount Billed)||29,359,051||29,808,656||29,794,876||28,774,781||29,740,618||35,788,366|
|Net Tax $ Increase||759,263||449,605||(13,780)||(1,020,095)||965,837||6,047,748|
|Net Tax % Increase||2.655%||1.531%||-0.046%||-3.424%||3.357%||20.335%|
Tax digest amounts represent 100% assessed valuation. The net levy represents the amount billed and not the amount collected.
The above totals are subject to some revisions due to properties that are under appeal. O.C.G.A. 48-5-311 requires temporary tax bills based on 85% of the year's assessed valuation or the taxpayers' return value, whichever is greater. $549,667,657 was added to the 2023 Tax Digest by reassessment.
Source: Whitfield County Board of Tax Assessors