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School system looks to raise taxes

By Greg Gelpi

Following another year of state budget cuts, the Clayton County school system announced it wants to raise property taxes.

The school system will hold public hearings on the proposed millage rate change. The hearings will be at 6 p.m. Monday, 6 p.m. Aug. 9 and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Clayton County Schools Administrative Complex, 1058 Fifth Ave., Jonesboro.

"Although the governor restored some of our revenue, we're still not back to where we were at," said Viola Darrington, the school system's coordinator of auditing.

Although it's only a rough estimate, Clayton County Chief Appraiser Rodney McDaniel said that the taxes on a $100,000 home would increase by about $19 from $567 last year to about $586 this year.

McDaniel added that it is hard to tell what the rate increase would mean to the school system in terms of additional revenue until the county sets the overall millage rate for the county.

The millage rate would be 0.34 percent more than the calculated rollback rate, a rate which would produce the same tax revenue as the revenue collected from previous property values. The county notified 32,000 residents of reassessed property values in April. McDaniel said previously that the value of residential and commercial land increased "significantly."

The school system announced its intentions to raise the millage rate the same day as the Clayton County Board of Education approved asking voters to extend a 1-cent sales tax.

"I am not really aware of what that is going to entail," school board member Allen T. Johnson, who learned of the increase from a newspaper story, said. "I don't think that that will be that big of a problem in passing the (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax)."

Johnson said the Clayton County school system's millage rate is one of the lowest in metro Atlanta at 18.916.

School Spokeswoman Camille Barbee Olmstead said that the millage rate is the second lowest of 14 metro Atlanta school system's. The lowest is Forsyth County.