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.