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Columbia County school board approves tax hike

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 7:40 PM
Last updated Wednesday, May 29, 2013 8:36 AM
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Property taxes will rise in Columbia County this year after initial approval of a 1-mill tax hike by the Board of Education.

On a 4-1 vote Tuesday, trustees agreed with a recommendation by School Superintendent Charles Nagle for a tax increase that amounts to roughly $40 per $100,000 in assessed property value. They also agreed to eliminate 20 custodial jobs.

“Even raising this budget by 1 mill is balancing this budget on just what we can get by with,” Nagle said during a budget hearing prior to the board session.

Years of state budget cuts, coupled with the county’s rising student population, had the school system facing an $11.5 million deficit when the budget process started, Nagle said. After taking nearly $7 million from the system’s reserve fund, school officials had to find an additional $4.6 million to balance the nearly $178 million budget.

About $600,000 in cuts will come from reducing the number of custodians by 20, to 140, for the system’s 32 schools, central office and other facilities. The tax hike is expected to generate $4 million to fill the remaining gap.

“Our people in our county are committed to having a good education and the best school system we can have,” said Board Chair Regina Buccafusco. “If they’re willing to spend extra money for channels on TV, I think they’re willing to spend the extra $50 or $200 or whatever ... on our school system.”

District 3 Board member Mike Sleeper was the lone vote against the tax hike. He said he would have preferred the system instead consider furloughing school employees for two days and “go from there.”

The board is expected to give final approval to the budget, including the tax hike, on June 11.

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Just My Opinion
5480
Points
Just My Opinion 05/28/13 - 08:38 pm
1
4
Sleeper thinks the easiest

Sleeper thinks the easiest thing to do is to have the school employees continue to shoulder the fiscal responsibility of balancing the budget all on their own. Who should pay for the costs of administration? The employees. Who should pay the costs of technology and training? The employees. Who should pay the costs of increased food, classroom and office supplies, and text book expenditures? The employees. I could go on...and so would Mike Sleeper if given the chance. The man is either out of touch or he simply doesn't care about the school employees.
I'd like to thank the other members of the school board for showing great wisdom and fairness in making this very difficult decision.

redapples
659
Points
redapples 05/29/13 - 10:30 am
1
3
All I can do is shake my head

All I can do is shake my head at the thought that furloughs are a better option than a 1-mill tax increase. You're asking the employees to pay MORE in their two furlough days than you are asking property owners to pay in their 1-mill tax increase. People, please consider all costs (those you can quantify and those you can't) already on the staff/teachers for increased class sizes, increased behavior problems that are coming in with the influx of students to our county, demand for increased performance, demand for teachers to attend a week or more of summer training and workshops where they pay their own travel, lodging and workshop registration costs, etc. Let's please continue to work together through these challenges and make it work. Sometimes we look at things only through our personal perspective, but let's try to see as much of the whole picture as possible.

resident
483
Points
resident 05/29/13 - 11:55 am
5
0
We still Waste too much!!!!!!!!!!!!

We start school in the HOTTEST MONTH of the YEAR historically, we have Diesel buses when I am sure savings could be obtained by co-op with Dixie or Georgia Natural Gas, We still have external AC going in schools instead of central heat and cool, we have no solar Grid attached systems. There is so much room for efficiency but it is ignored completely by board members, transportation, and building engineers! I bet we could have solar installed for say $200K probably high that would be grid attached and basically keep us from drawing from Georgia Power during the day Large quantities of power. The purpose of this type is not to replace but augment power thus saving I would guess in the millions in electricity costs over a few years. There are companies and Even the Georgia Power monopoly that have co-op programs for this. Propane or Natural Gas bus conversion is $2K per bus. Look at the cost per BTU or gallon compared to diesel. Again I would bet that this can be covered by grants and co-op and the savings more than pays for this. Stop wasting money on books that are not used but simply to say yes we have them and comply with some sort of accrediting requirement, this is very common!

Increase in students.. Seems like if we have so many new houses and people we should have the increased revenues to go with it...Why is this not matching up? So her are some easy suggestions that require overpaid administration to do their job and really look at stuff, manage resources, improve efficiency, save tax payer money, and provide for a good education!

fiscallyresponsible
141
Points
fiscallyresponsible 05/29/13 - 12:29 pm
3
0
STOP TAXING US TO DEATH!

@resident, the reason that our enrollment is going up but we aren't getting more in taxes is because the geniuses in charge or our county keep letting apartment complexes in, low income/section 8 housing in, tiny little townhouse developments in, etc.

Until that stops, expect the good citizens of CC to continue paying through the nose.

I am disgusted by this. Make due like those of us in the private industry! When our revenue is down, we make cuts in expenses. Hard cuts that affect us and affect employees. But they must be done or you can just close the door to your business. And yes, that means cutting peoples hours, salaries, benefits, perks, new building plans, etc.

And yes, while we are doing that, our government is busy spending money and TAXING us more!

Hire me to come in and make your cuts, I feel sure I could get the job done without taxing the good citizens of your county.

Local Interests
40
Points
Local Interests 05/29/13 - 01:21 pm
3
0
GP Does NOT Want Solar

resident, I completely agree with you that school systems, businesses and individuals could save many $'s in Georgia by utilizing solar (where the sun is almost always shining). However, Georgia Power has greatly limited the options for the solar industry with laws they have lobbied into effect. Those large, flat roofs on schools would be perfect for solar panels.

woodymeister
245
Points
woodymeister 05/29/13 - 01:48 pm
4
1
Another Sleeper Classic

School board member or budding politician? Mr. Sleeper is well known for his attempted "political correctness". He can vote not to raise taxes and the public loves it. He votes to furlough school employees and he only has to deal with the lesser number of people impacted. He votes against raising taxes knowing good and well it will pass anyway - then he attempts to look like the hero by voting against.

Does he understand that the good school employees will find better jobs in better schools and CC will be left with what's left. By then he'll be trying to be elected as a commisioner after dad-in-law is gone.

People in CC - I hope you remember all of this when election time rolls around. He is attempting to throw educators under the bus and at the same time garner more support from the voting public. Remember that your children will not have a second chance to get their primary education. We should stand up, understand the situation, and do what is best for the kids. If we want to produce more poorly educated bottom dwellers, then by all means let's punish the very people who we hold accountable for their education - our school teachers. I thank each and every one of our dedicated teachers and ask you continue to provide our children with a quality education.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 05/29/13 - 02:07 pm
3
0
Stevie wonder coulda

... seen that coming. Raise taxes, yeah, that's the ticket!

(But not one suggestion eliminating the bloated bureaucracy at the palace, just the hardworking custodians.)

woodymeister
245
Points
woodymeister 05/29/13 - 04:33 pm
0
2
Fiscally Responsible

Don't apartment and townhouse owners pay property taxes like homeowners?

Do you know what percentage of the school system budget goes to salaries? Where would you suggest the cuts be made? From the teachers and administrators who have not had a raise in the past 5 years? I presume you would be okay with your kids bringing their own toilet paper to school. Could they bring their own paper too - because if not he can't take a math test today. Bring your own or fail - the school system can't be held accountable for supplying these items because the good citizens of this county refuse to shoulder the burden? Do us all a favor and return to your private sector...we need your hard earned tax dollars!

Just My Opinion
5480
Points
Just My Opinion 05/29/13 - 05:43 pm
1
0
You know, I think one thing

You know, I think one thing that could be done to bring in money into the schools is to seek out businesses to either donate monies or to purchase advertising within the schools. This has already been done at just about all the athletic venues, so why not INSIDE the schools? Lockers. Doors. Walls. Book covers. Benches. Banner ads on the back of test papers or papers going home. Even the school buses! You don't think restaurants, coffee houses, retailers wouldn't LOVE to be all over our schools?? Why not?

TCB22
622
Points
TCB22 05/29/13 - 06:18 pm
1
0
I wonder if there are

I wonder if there are children coming to CC schools from RC? How is that monitored?

mdl1946
1007
Points
mdl1946 05/29/13 - 08:18 pm
1
0
$600,000.00 divided by 20 = 30,000.00 each that's not bad for

a custodian ,for a 9 or 10 month job that should not be a career?

RMSHEFF
15897
Points
RMSHEFF 05/29/13 - 09:48 pm
1
0
Schools should return to the

Schools should return to the teaching the basics and all other activities should be paid for by other means such as the parents or local industry and businesses. This includes sports, music etc. The curriculum should be limited to subjects necessary for society to advance. It is obvious that our public schools don't do a very good job even with the 3 r's. Many students should be tracking into technical training as early as the 9 th grade. Even higher education is producing graduates with no marketable skills leaving the students with debt they can never repay. Our entire education system is broken because it has been a government monopoly with no way to constrain cost. I read an article last week that stated the United States spends more per student than most industrialized countries wit poorer results.

justmyopion1
45
Points
justmyopion1 07/06/13 - 01:22 pm
0
0
TAX HIKE FOR THIS!!!!

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, or even cares that the schools are taking our money to put electronic billboard signs up in place of the standard sign in front of schools? How much does it cost for these signs, I don't remember approving this? Just think of the millions this county is spending on other topical treatments to make Columbia County the most wasteful county in the State?

justmyopion1
45
Points
justmyopion1 07/06/13 - 01:22 pm
0
0
TAX HIKE FOR THIS!!!!

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, or even cares that the schools are taking our money to put electronic billboard signs up in place of the standard sign in front of schools? How much does it cost for these signs, I don't remember approving this? Just think of the millions this county is spending on other topical treatments to make Columbia County the most wasteful county in the State?

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