Albany - Prepare for property taxes to go up in Dougherty County. "It is a crisis of funding which the state has passed on to the school system. They got their sums wrong but wouldn't raise taxes, so we've had to raise our taxes," said Dougherty County School Finance Director Robert Lloyd.
On Wednesday, the School Board tentatively approved a 1.6-mil tax increase. The school system is slashing costs and considering raising your property taxes to balance the budget. Dougherty County has seen no growth in the tax digest and cuts in state money. But, the cost of running the schools continues to increase. That means some school employees will feel the pinch of a tight budget so education doesn't suffer.
Yorel Baisden mops the floor of an empty classroom at Dougherty High School. One way the school system is trying to cut cost is to reduce the custodial staff. And, that has Baisden worried she'll loss her job. "The Lord giveth and the Lord can takeith away. I will just hope and prayer I can keep my job," said Baisden.
Other ways the school system is looking to save money include cutting back on field trips, selling 17 system vehicles, and handing driver's education over to Albany Tech. "We've already saved about $1,600,000," said Lloyd. "Because of state mandates on class sizes and teacher numbers, we can't cut anymore."
A proposed 1.6-mil increase would generate about $2,900,000 for the school system. You would pay $48 more a year in property taxes on a $75,000 house, $64 more for a $100,000 house, and $112 more for a $200,000 house.
Board member Judge Willie Weaver voted against the millage increase. "I want to see if there are anymore cuts that can be made before I agree to raise the taxes," said Judge Weaver.
Baisden and other custodians may feel a double punch - they may lose their job and be hit with higher taxes.
The Board must pass a budget and decide on the millage by June 30th. The County commission is also considering a property tax increase on top of the school board millage hike.