Columbia County schools will not change tax rate

The tax rate to fund Columbia County’s school system will remain the same next year after approval from the school board this morning.


With board members Roxanne Whitaker and Mildred Blackburn absent, trustees unanimously approved maintaining 17.09 millage for 2010.

The levy will bring the school system $66.4 million in revenue after a 2.5 percent payment to the county’s tax office for collecting the funds, and is based on the smallest increase in the value of the county’s taxable property in more than five years.

When the decrease in some property assessments is factored in, the value of the county’s tax digest has increased by just half a percent, said school system Controller Pat Sullivan.

That nearly flat growth follows increases in the county’s property tax value of more than 14 percent in 2006, 12.5 percent in 2007 and nearly 8 percent in 2008, Ms. Sullivan said.

The $66.4 million in local taxes is less than half the school system’s total budget of more than $173 million, with most of the funding coming from the state and a small portion from the federal government – but state funding has been cut twice in recent months, and Superintendent Charles Nagle said more cuts are likely.

“I think we all realize what the future holds,” said board member Wayne Bridges. “The board’s got some work over the next couple of years.

“We don’t want to raise taxes on our citizens, but we understand (funding) is getting pretty critical from the state level.”

All Georgia school systems have been struggling with budget cuts from the state, Mr. Nagle said. “We are going to have to take a look at a lot of things when we start working on the budget in January and February,” he said.

Board members in the morning meeting also approved refinancing a $5.5 million bond at a lower rate. The move will save the county more than $300,000, Ms. Sullivan said.



Savannah River Site resumes normal activity

A suspicious item was discovered Wednesday afternoon at the Savannah River National Laboratory which prompted emergency responseactivities.

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