The Richmond County Board of Education will hold public hearings next week for property owners to express concerns about the higher millage approved with the 2013-14 budget.
A 0.98-mill bump in the rate to 19.982 mills will result in a 5.16 percent increase in property taxes. That will mean $30 more in taxes on a home with a market value of $100,000 for a total of $699 in school taxes per year.
A homeowner with a $300,000 home would see a $100 increase for $2,298 in school taxes per year.
The school system has not raised taxes since 2009 despite continued cuts in state funding and soaring expenses.
Controller Gene Spires said the tax increase was necessary this year to make up for lost revenue and balance the budget. The board also implemented nine furlough days, eliminated 135 positions and cut 7 percent of expenditures at every school.
“I’m a taxpayer so I can’t say I like it when there are higher taxes,” Spires said. “But if you have to have services, you have to have a way to pay for them.”
The tax increase will provide an estimated $4.7 million in additional revenue for the school system.
Spires said when public hearings were held to discuss the last tax increase,
few residents showed up. He said anyone is welcome to attend and express an opinion.
Richmond County Republican Committee Chairman Bob Finnegan said tax increases should be used only as a last resort, and he hoped the board cut everything they could before turning to taxpayers.
“I hate that they have to do it, but I guess you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Finnegan said. “People are not going to like it. I sure hope they had exhausted any other possibilities before this.”