AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As property values are on the rise, so are the number of people letting the Richmond County School Board know about it.
The board held two meetings on Tuesday, one at Noon, and the other at 6:00 PM. The meetings are required by state law for the board to hold.
However, these two public hearings gave those in the community a chance to voice their growing concerns.
“The question in my mind pops up is, what are we getting for it? What’s happening? What’s changing,” said AU Systems Architect Paul Wheeler.
And what’s changing is the Board’s intentions.
Board members want to raise the millage rate 10 percent above the current rollback rate in order to meet their revenue goals, which is required to balance the budget.
But state law also requires three of these hearings to take place.
“We’re mandated to do this because of that rollback rate. If we had gone all the way back to the rollback rate and said that’s where we’re gonna be, then we wouldn’t need to have these public meetings. But because we were lower than last year, but higher than the rollback rate, in order to cover some of those shortfalls we have that we weren’t expecting,” said Board President Charlie Walker.
But raising the millage rate will actually save homeowners on their property taxes this year.
A Board spokesperson tells NewsChannel 6 the owner of a $150,000 home will pay about $64 dollars less than last year.
According to CFO Bobby Smith, there is the rate increase covers a $14 Million increase in healthcare coverage for Richmond County employees, along with other expenses and stipends that aim to take care of employees in the district.
But people like Wheeler, a new father whose wife had to leave the workforce to take care of the baby, are still very concerned.
“I’m not getting a 23% pay-raise in 2 and a half years to cover a 23% increase in cost of taxes of anything. So it scares me, and it makes me think I’m not going to be able to live in my 70-year-old, non-renovated house,” said Wheeler.
The next public hearing is August 29th at 5:30 PM, at the County’s BOE Building on Broad Street.
Augusta commissioners will also have a final vote on the millage rollback rate next Tuesday, and it will be reflected in this year’s tax bills.