(Forsyth County, GA) The Forsyth County Board of Education approved a millage rate Tuesday for the 2022-23 school year that will result in a property tax increase of about 15.91 percent.
Over the last two weeks, the board has heard from residents upset over the system’s proposed spending and millage rate for the 2022-23 school year.
On Tuesday, the board held the final public hearing, approved a $585 million budget, and kept the same maintenance and operation millage rate of 17.3. In addition, the board lowered the debt millage rate from 2.418 to 1.418.
The board had already approved pay raises and a cost of living increase for teachers and other categories of school employees in the $585 million budget for the 2022-23 school year. The budget also increases hourly employees to $15 per hour.
The board approved the millage rate and budget with a 4-0 vote. Board Chairman Wes McCall was not present for the vote, and board member Tom Cleveland voted remotely.
The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $400,000 is approximately $375.25 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $350,000 is approximately $332.50, according to a Forsyth County Schools press release.
Some residents who spoke during the public hearing criticized the rise in their property taxes.
Jessica Haggberg was stark in her assessments of the proposals.
“We are struggling to adjust to increased costs in this economic crisis. It’s gross and you are being heartless. Tighten your budget and roll back the millage rate,” she said.
Todd Peek said the vote was a life-changing decision.
He said he didn’t have the choice of just paying part of his tax bill without the prospect of putting a tax lien on his house.
“I can’t say, ‘Just screw it, I’m not going to pay it,’ ” Peek said.
Mendy Moore said she had an increase of $300 monthly for the school portion of taxes.
“Consider a floating homestead exemption for the school portion of taxes. This seems like a reckless move,” she said.
Board member Kristin Morrisey said various factors go into creating the budget. She explained the county did not have the CARES fund from Covid to help pay for teachers, desks and other items. Forsyth County received $20 million in funds, compared to Gwinnett County’s more than $400 million.
Board member Lindsey Adams said she was happy to see the increase for parents and staff to remain competitive with neighboring counties.
“This budget focuses on the needs of students,” she said.
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