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Public invited to comment on BOE tax hike
First of 3 hearings set for 6 p.m. Thursday
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    Beginning Thursday, the Bulloch County Board of Education will hold three hearings to gather public input about a plan to raise the public school portion of property taxes by half a mill. 
    The first public hearing is set for 6 p.m. Thursday in the Bulloch County Board of Education’s Central Office, 150 Williams Road. The fiscal year 2011 budget adopted by the Board at its June 24 meeting includes raising the current millage rate of 9.45 mills to 9.95 mills, an increase of 5.29 percent.
    The effect of this increase on property owners is $20 per $100,000 in property value, and it is needed due to a $7.3 million decline in state education funding and other local revenue sources, said Charles Wilson, assistant superintendent of Business and Finance.
    Wilson said local property prices also have declined, causing Bulloch County’s tax digest value to decrease, effectively decreasing the amount of taxes collected by the Board for operating purposes.
    “We reviewed staff furloughs, school programs, overhead … everything,” Edwin Hill, a school board member, said back in June. “I take raising taxes very seriously and I am confident I can look every taxpayer in the eye and say this tax increase is best for our students and our schools.”
    It has been seven years since the Board has sought an increase, and the student population has grown by nearly 15 percent in that time, said Hayley Greene, public relations and marketing specialist for the Board. Bulloch currently has about 9,500 students in the public school system.
    The half mill increase is expected to generate $875,000 and provide for 12-13 teaching positions.
    Greene said board members want to hear from the public and encourage participation at Thursday’s hearing. Two more hearings are scheduled for July 22, at noon and 6 p.m. Call 764-6201 for more information.

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