Tax hike on table for Columbia County schools

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 7:53 PM
Last updated 9:35 PM
  • Follow Government

A tax increase likely will be on the table when Columbia County’s school board meets next week.

Superintendent Charles Nagle painted a gloomy scene Tuesday during a presentation of next school year’s budget, telling board members that years of state funding cuts, state-mandated health insurance increases and rising enrollments have left few options for balancing next year’s $178 million budget.

“This is the sixth budget I’ve presented, and it’s probably the worst,” Nagle said.

With a series of charts and graphs, Nagle showed how state funding has risen just 2 percent in the past 12 years, while student enrollment in Columbia County has risen 29 percent to the current 24,400 – with more than 400 new students expected next year.

For the 2013-14 budget, the state is hitting the county with a combination of funding cuts and mandated health insurance increases that, after the system dips into its reserves, still leaves a gap of nearly $5 million, Nagle said.

“Basically, we’re looking at a $4.6 million deficit,” he said. “That’s the flavor of the day.”

That deficit would be far worse if the system hadn’t raised the tax rate by a half-mill three years ago, he said, hinting that when the board meets again Tuesday after a few days of “digesting” the budget files that he’ll likely propose a one-mill tax increase.

That would produce about $4 million in additional revenue at a cost to taxpayers of about $50 per year per $100,000 in home value, Nagle said.

With a millage rate of 17.59 mills, a one-mill increase would still leave the school system just more than a mill under the state cap of 20 mills – a ceiling that many systems already have hit.

“We’re one of the few counties that’s still under 20 mills,” Nagle said. “We’re one of the few counties that still has a full calendar” without reducing the number of days of instruction below 180.

Comments (24) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 05/07/13 - 08:12 pm
0
0
Same old tune
Unpublished

I've got a good idea. How about rescinding all of the administrative salary increases that have been given over the last 6 years for a start. Nagel's alone has been over $10,000.00 a year, each year.

class1
300
Points
class1 05/07/13 - 08:34 pm
3
0
Furlough

Welcome to the world of furlough days!

wildman
1222
Points
wildman 05/08/13 - 03:46 am
3
0
You are not alone,

SRNS employees feel your pain. Get furloughed and your taxes go up, nothing like getting screwed by your own government. Those of us that work part time still have to pay for those that will not work but demand handout's from Uncle Sam. Remember it's not free money, it was taken from us that get up everyday and go to work. You gotta love it!

fatboyhog
2104
Points
fatboyhog 05/08/13 - 05:43 am
4
1
I wonder...

How much money could be saved by going to a 4 day week? Has that angle been pursued? If not, it should. I'm sure that some people will complain that their schedule won't allow for their publicly funded baby-sitting service to cut down to 4 days, but it's something that should be looked at. How much in fuel could be saved? How much would power bills go down? Food costs for the lunchroom? It's probably not a popular option, but it's a sensible one and should be thrown into the mix. I don't know how much more taxing I can take without breaking my bank. My funds (pay) have been drastically reduced over the past several years, and I don't get any money from any additional sources! The government needs to be more thrifty with OUR money.

ColCo
927
Points
ColCo 05/08/13 - 05:54 am
3
0
Welcome to our pain

Those of us in the private sector have been "feeling your pain" for years. Here's a novel idea, cut the school year by 30 days. Neither of my kids has told me of anything substantive that has taken place in their classrooms since they took the CRCT's in April. Perhaps push the start of the school year to after Labor Day so you don't have to run air conditioners during the hottest month of the year. Stop buying books, the kids never use them because the teachers seem to use their own material instead of teaching from the text books. There is always room to cut costs, however, our lame duck Superintendent appears to be more than willing to tax us more instead of making hard management decisions.

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 05/08/13 - 06:09 am
0
0
And why pray tell has the massive
Unpublished

influx of new students in CC not raised the tax digest to support the massive new school buildings being built to house same? Are their parents somewhere else? Strange that all of the new residents coming to CC are not bringing money with them? At least property tax revenue.

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 05/08/13 - 06:13 am
0
0
Education and the church have both become
Unpublished

"for profit businesses". Profit that equates to properties owned and maintained. Profit that equates to more and higher paid employees. Profit goals that make slaves of those served.

my.voice
5178
Points
my.voice 05/08/13 - 06:43 am
1
0
+1 Colco Movies, games, etc

+1 Colco

Movies, games, etc after the annual tests are taken. Furthermore, all teaching is geared for that test. Shame shame shame

Little Lamb
49133
Points
Little Lamb 05/08/13 - 07:26 am
1
0
Calendar

From the story:

Retiring superintendent Charles Nagle said, “We’re one of the few counties that still has a full calendar” without reducing the number of days of instruction below 180.

Well, that's one obvious piece of low-hanging fruit to pick. Shorten the calendar — which automatically cuts salaries, utilities, fuel and other costs.

And my.voice is correct. I have first-hand knowledge that they show Hollywood movies for entertainment purposes after the tests are taken in the spring — for days on end.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 05/08/13 - 08:29 am
0
0
riasing enrollment costs are
Unpublished

riasing enrollment costs are just the sign of "law-abiding citizen flight" from the cesspool that is richmond county school district. a 4 day school week would be very cost effective but them as one poster said there will be an uproar from the parents because of loss of one day free baby sitting service..well property owners the only suggestion is "bend over, grab your ankles and hold on"

resident
501
Points
resident 05/08/13 - 08:40 am
1
0
I agree

There are some very good points made above for sure. Here is another to add to this. We just bought a bunch of new DIESEL FUEL buses instead of propane which pollutes less and is cheaper to run. We start like mentioned above in the hottest month of the year. We have not explored solar (grid attached) in our new buildings. The latter of the mentioned items I am pretty sure could be partnered with industry experts such as Dixie gas, Maybe solar companies or even Georgia (Monopoly) Power company. I am sure significant saving can be achieved plus teach alternative fuels and energy saving to a generation of children that need to understand this kind of stuff. I would also bet there are many grants out there for this kind of stuff.

Books never used....100% agree if there is a curriculum requirement that the book be used THEN USE IT!!!! or stop buying them! My son has two books that were brand new but the lessons were not from the book but he was required to have them. Wasted days of 1/2 day for students, it seems like a break to take the next break. Why not look at the wasted days off given instead of a real summer break that keeps children out of the classroom during the months of least paying attentions or desire to attend (distractions due to nice weather). Take some lessons from the schools up north it seems to work for them. We finally learned how to make a multiple floor school building but still have not figured out how to use Central heating an cooling that is computer not teacher controlled.

db16
95
Points
db16 05/08/13 - 09:25 am
1
0
Be part of the Solution...Not part of the Problem!

News Feed:
Everyone who is commenting must hold PhD's? Ya'll sure are full of lots of solutions...Why don't you, the Brains, run for your district to become the next School Board Member? Until then, understand the following things:
*Tax Rates are substantially lower than most Geographic Regions of the United States. Columbia County Residents get more bang for their buck than you realize.
*Your home values are lower now...that is a positive. That also means that your tax rates will only go up to what they were about 3 years ago before CC lowered the rates
*Furloughs are not the answer. Furloughs mean kids are out of school too. When kids aren't in school, bad things will happen. Crime rates will go up (even in illustrious CC!).
*CC Employees are paying Higher Medical Insurance Premiums and Co-Pays than 85% of the 'Working Force' in America and 100% Higher than all of those teet sucking leaches who the Working Folks Support.
*August in Augusta is no different than September in Augusta. If you swap August Utility Bills with June Utility Bills...you are not saving a whole lot...and a later start means kids will be in school until June.

It is quite obvious, reading these comments, who on this board have had bad experiences with their own personal education or the schools/educators in their own child's schools. I have a solution for you folks...Washington Road goes 2 ways...Lincoln County to the North and Richmond County to the South...Hop on it and ride it until you get to the County Line, Don't let the Red Lights Slow you Down and Please don't let the Door Hit you where the Good Lord Split you on your way out of town! Moving is an option! Give me a tax increase...I will gladly pay that for the sake of my Children receiving a much better Education than anywhere else in the CSRA!!!

Red Headed Step Child
4491
Points
Red Headed Step Child 05/08/13 - 09:44 am
1
0
I'm surprised that textbooks

I'm surprised that textbooks haven't gone completely online yet - sure, there's still a cost, but surely it has to be significantly lower. Not to mention you get the most updated version that way...

On the flip side, I feel for teachers - the good ones - that will have their salaries cut if the instructional days get reduced or there are furloughs. They already don't make a lot of money, and they do put in a lot of hours outside of school. It sure would be nice to figure out a way to save $$ without having to cut incomes...We are already operating with less teachers to try and shore up the budget shortfalls.

Long and short of it is that taxes are a necessary evil - I agree that as long as the money is being used appropriately and we are operating as skinny as we can without giving up quality education, then I'll gladly pay it - nothing's free.

Sweet son
11673
Points
Sweet son 05/08/13 - 09:55 am
1
0
Thanks Barry!

You did what you said you were going to do and that is attend the meeting for most of us. Sure don't like the info that you gathered and wrote about in this story. What happens when the system gets to 20 mils?

Red Headed Step Child
4491
Points
Red Headed Step Child 05/08/13 - 10:06 am
1
0
@db16

I didn't take the postings above as being a part of the "problem"... there were some legitimate concerns (such as wasted instructional days on movies, etc) and questions regarding if the county doing their best on cost reductions. It's all well and good to raise taxes - and support the raising of those taxes - as long as the county is fiscally responsible in the use of those taxes - and are our kids getting the most bang for OUR buck in the instruction they get. I think that's the main concern here...

db16
95
Points
db16 05/08/13 - 10:23 am
1
0
@ RHSC

I understand what you are saying and that folks are trying to voice their concerns. But also re-read these solutions.
You cannot compare Educators to the 'Private Sector.' Cutting things, like many of these folks are suggesting, will in turn CUT OUR CHILDREN and THEIR LEARNING. Many folks on these 'Education' linked threads have ill will and hatred for Educators. It has become grossly evident that none of these folks who continuously comment have a 'Card in the Hand' being discussed. There are many ways of cutting costs. But many of these problems are due to the 'STATE' cutting funding. Local Funds and LOCAL Tax dollars need to be used to maintain the status quo. It is time for these folks to stop bashing the local systems and administrators and start writing your Senators and Congress Members to ask them to kindly remove their heads from their colons and see the negative impact these cuts are having on our Children. CCBOE is one of the most Fiscally Responsible and Frugally Operated (Cost Per Student) Systems in the State of Georgia. And our Community seems to get their panties in a wad when there is a 'hint' of a mill increase to support Education? Keep cutting the Educational system and you will see that the Long Term Problems will Dwarf the Short Term Solution!! Think about this...Who will change your 'Depends' and Who will contribute to the Social Security System we will depend on down the road?

Red Headed Step Child
4491
Points
Red Headed Step Child 05/08/13 - 11:15 am
1
0
I agree - there is a balance.

I agree - there is a balance. Both the State and local governments have to do the right thing - Georgia is a balanced budget state -there's only so much money there and it has to be appropriated responsibly. I am also of the opinion that education shouldn't be touched, but the reality of it is that everything will be touched in some way by budget constraints - it just is what it is.

I will also be the first to say that I think Columbia County does a good job by and large - having lived in Columbia County almost all of my life, I have a connection and pride in this community and have served many a year in the schools where my children attend. That being said, I am also not convinced that there are no other measures that can be done to help stretch that dollar - I may be wrong, but that's my take on it.

I looked back over the comments - things like buses, text books & utilities - those sound like logical things to question when it comes to stretching that dollar and has no impact that I can see on the level of education a child receives. I can see where cutting back instructional days may impact the education a child receives - but think of it another way - IF a child gets the same level of education going 4 days vs. 5 days, and it is proven to save money - where do they lose? The comments about "wasted" days is true - I know of several occasions where my kids didn't do anything but watch movies, etc during the school day. If there's no instruction happening, they are wasting resources. Sometimes you have to think outside the box to come up with a win-win solution...I think that forums like this oftentimes help stimulate conversations that beget those out of the box ideas...but you're right - as citizens we do have to take appropriate action, otherwise it's just all talk...

my.voice
5178
Points
my.voice 05/08/13 - 11:23 am
3
0
County needs a road - Tax em

County needs a road - Tax em 1% on purchases (as many times as you need)

County needs a school? - Jack em up but by ALL means keep the administration payrolls as high as you possibly can, and build build build those BOE palaces....I mean headquarters.

Neighbor has a nice boat? Dont worry, we will punish the varmint for succeeding

We are now experienceing INCREASED property, sales and income taxes and its still not enough.

VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE, ONE BY ONE. NEVER FORGET.

ColCo
927
Points
ColCo 05/08/13 - 11:32 am
2
0
db16

So the local system is 100% efficient? The state will let us cut 10 days off the school year, which if we furloughed everyone in the system, that one move would save the system $750,000.00 a day! $7.5 million in total savings with one change. I have nothing against educators and am very involved at my kid's schools, but hard decisions have to be made. Good luck with trying to get our federal officials to make smart decisions, not enough of them left that have us in mind.

countyman
21638
Points
countyman 05/08/13 - 12:41 pm
1
2
DB16... How is your child a

DB16... How is your child receving a much better education than anywhere in the CSRA? Columbia County may have the better overall system, but people send their kids to individual schools.

The best school in Columbia County(Lakeside) didn't even make the top 47 high schools in Georgia, and Richmond County had two in the top ten.

I'm positive somebody will bring up their magnet schools, but the majority of kids in Columbia don't attend Lakeside either.

db16
95
Points
db16 05/08/13 - 11:59 am
1
0
ColCo....

Yes...our local school system is 100% efficient. We have tapped the reserves very little. Based on the system budget and cost per student index, Columbia County has done a spectacular job when it is all said and done. And to make it even better, your local educators have worked for less money over the last 3 years than they were making in 2009. Costs, Expenses, Insurance, etc. have ballooned all around these folks and they have not missed a beat in educating these children. As for the Furloughs, losing those 10 days of instruction will blow all Standardized Tests and Results completely out of the water. What you fail to realize is that CC has made it a point to develop these curriculum maps to cover ALL material on the CRCT prior to the Test Dates in April. Curriculum for these tests is covered up to the Test Dates. TEST Results from the STATE are received prior to the end of the school year in order to Re-Test these children who failed the test and face Promotion/Retention issues. Again, this is part of the issue as stated above...The STATE MANDATES these tests like the PIMPS...and EDUCATORS AND SYSTEMS are the HO's Who are forced to do the dirty work! Your local system is doing a good job and honestly ColCo...your LAST SENTENCE hits the nail on the head...not only at the state level, but also at the Federal Level. Too much Government...and we are seeing the Collapse of the System...LITTLE BY LITTLE!

db16
95
Points
db16 05/08/13 - 12:11 pm
2
0
County Man

Take a look STATE School Numbers again. How many of them are 'Charter' and 'Magnet' Schools? Now go and look at the Public Schools. Now look at the Student/Teacher Ratio, AP Students and Scores, etc. Now look at their 'SYSTEM' and 'TAXES.' You will notice that many of those TOP 50 are in Larger Systems or 'Upscale Communities' with HUGE TAX BASES...also, take a REAL GOOD LOOK at Student to Teacher Ratio! There is your PRIMARY INDICATOR. Shoot man, many CC Schools haven't seen a 15:1 Ratio is 25 Years. View education like you view a car...Check it from the outside first...and then inspect the Engine and all Operational Parts. I would say Columbia County is doing pretty darn good...And Richmond County has ONE FINE ARTS school that is one of the Best Schools in the State. But that is what you get with Charter & Magnet Schools. Public System yet Private and Specified Criteria. Can really skew minds and numbers. CC would have a top 3 School if they followed suit!

Lefty5865
6
Points
Lefty5865 05/08/13 - 12:32 pm
1
0
Textbooks

Columbia County will not be using digital textbooks any time soon. "We don't have the money." I am in the digital textbook business and was told by one of your curriculum directors that they are not buying anything because of this budget mess.

countyman
21638
Points
countyman 05/08/13 - 12:40 pm
1
2
DB16... AR Johnson may not be

DB16... AR Johnson may not be considered 'Fine Arts', but it ranked as the 12th best school in the state. The new Vocational magnet high school in South Augusta just opened.

I'm not taking anything from Columbia County, but let's not go overboard.

Little Lamb
49133
Points
Little Lamb 05/08/13 - 01:33 pm
1
0
Digital

Thanks for joining the forum, Lefty. The only good reason for switching from paper textbooks to digital ones would be to save money. If your digital textbooks are more expensive than the paper ones, then you're doomed from the start.

How can Columbia County school system say, “We don’t have the money?” They buy textbooks every single year. Textbooks are a major part of their budget. Either your products are more expensive than paper books or you are not presenting the salient facts.

Lefty5865
6
Points
Lefty5865 05/08/13 - 02:59 pm
1
0
Lamb

My digital textbooks cost $19-24 per student annually. They provide teachers with every resource they need to teach social studies and science. Automated assessment with grade book, GPS, Common Core, Flipped Classroom, project based learning, audio & video, biographies, vocabulary, unit customization, maps, and archives. Also, it works on any device! I read that Columbia is looking to transition to BYOT. There is no point to that if you do not have content that will fit on to any device. And Lamb, do you know how much it cost to educate a student in Georgia? $10,500. So it seems that CBOE cannot afford to pay $20 per year for core subjects that are now a major part of the CCRPI. But Lamb, to answer your question, BOE administrators are notorious for being unreceptive to publishers because 99% of the material out there is junk. When someone produces a good idea it is difficult to get them to listen.

750
Points
Barry Paschal 05/08/13 - 08:47 pm
0
0
Cost per student FYI

It does not cost $10,500 to educate a student in Columbia County. Per-pupil cost is closer to $5,600. It's so far below the state average that the county would need to spend an additional $26 million per year to reach average in spending.

fatboyhog
2104
Points
fatboyhog 05/08/13 - 09:59 pm
0
0
Attn db16

One doesn't need a PhD to see that there are more efficient ways to run things. Tough decisions need to be made. The solution to the problem shouldn't be "tax 'em!" It shouldn't be "furlough 'em!" Until and unless ALL viable options are explored, we should continue to question spending habits. Only after all avenues have been exhausted should the call for raising taxes be made.

And, for the record, I don't hate educators. I admire them. The one's I have a problem with are the administrators, who think they alone have all the answers. How long has it been since Nagle was in a classroom? I have a problem with bureaucratic foolishness that sounds good on paper, but in real life, sucks. Let the teachers teach.

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs