The Dalton Board of Education has tentatively approved to reduce the operating millage rate to 7.95 mills from 8.095. This would be the second consecutive year to reduce the operating millage rate which was at 8.20 mills in the 2020 year.
The digest shows growth of 14.67 percent. Fourteen percent 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 7.95 mills, change in city school taxes is 12.61 percent or $3.6 million in tax revenue for the school district.
The board approved a $90 million fiscal year 2023 General Fund budget. Budgeted expenditures exceeded the budgeted revenues of $85.8 million by $4.2 million. The school district would use $4.2 million of the available fund balance for the operation of the school district for the next year. Even though property values have increased substantially, once potential appeals of the new property values have been accounted for, the school district anticipates that property tax revenue may be $2.2 million better than the fiscal year 2023 budget which would result in using $2 million of the fund balance to operate the school district.
The improved property tax revenue and preserving the available fund balance will become financially critical in the future fiscal year 2024. During the 2021, 2022 and 2023 school years, the district received one-time federal funds in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Those funds will expire in fiscal year 2024. Dalton Public Schools used those funds for new instructional positions and supporting school personnel in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. These federal funds were also used in technology, social and emotional well-being, and remediation. The administration is calculating about $3.7 million of the federal expenditures will need to be absorbed into the General Fund in fiscal year 2024.
The City of Dalton property owners will also see a reduction in the debt service millage rate to .53 mills from 0.57 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 November 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.