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Bulloch Local Government

3 Public Hearings Planned After Bulloch BOE Announces Tax Increase

After its called special called meeting on July 28, the Bulloch County Board of Education announced it plans to increase property taxes by 5.54% over the rollback millage rate.

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The rate, if given final approval following the public hearings, will impact 2022 property taxes.

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From the press release from the Bulloch County Board of Education:

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Each year, the Bulloch County Board of Assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property in the county.  When the trend of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicate there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the board of assessors is required by law to re-determine the value of such property and adjust the assessment.  This is called a reassessment.  When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires a rollback millage rate to be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

In accordance with Georgia Code 20-2-165, boards of education must maintain an equivalent millage rate of at least 14 mills to prevent a loss of their state equalization grant funding. Currently, Bulloch County Schools’ state equalization grant funding totals more than $5 million.  

Due to the reassessment of property values in Bulloch County, the rollback millage rate required by Georgia law would cause Bulloch County Schools’ equivalent millage rate to fall below 14 mills, thus causing loss of the school district’s equalization funding.  Therefore, the Bulloch County Board of Education intends to adopt an equivalent millage that is at least 14 mills to secure the school district’s equalization funding.   

The 14-mill calculation requirement is composed of the property tax millage rate that the board must adopt annually along with the equivalent mills produced by the Local Option Sales Tax that the school district collects for maintenance and operations purposes.  

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Based upon the value of the 2022 tax digest, per the Bulloch County Board of Assessors’ reassessment, a complete rollback of the district’s millage rate would be 7.829 mills, which when combined with the imputed value of Local Option Sales Tax collections of 5.737 mills, equates to only 13.566 mills, which is below the legal threshold.   

In order to maintain the minimum 14 mills of property tax required under Georgia Code 20-2-165, Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson proposed during the special session that the Bulloch County Board of Education adopt a property tax millage rate of 8.263 mills, bringing the total effective millage rate to 14.000 mills.  Due to the nature of the millage rate rollback process, this action will effectively constitute an increase in property taxes.  

There will be three public hearings on the tax increase:

  • Monday, August 8, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.
  • Monday, August 8, 2022 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Monday, August 15, 2022 at 12:00 p.m.

All three meetings will be held at the Bulloch County Board of Education at 150 Williams Road, Statesboro, Georgia.

Jessica Szilagyi
Written By

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Donny Turner

    August 7, 2022 at 10:41 pm

    We’re going through the same thing here in Upson County with our school board. They are increasing the millage rate to 14 mills and the public is not happy with it. After doing extensive research on the topic, I have learned some things that you will be interested in. First, many school boards across the state have a dirty little secret that most taxpayers dont know about, and school boards won’t tell you, that I just discovered here. The have a line item in the general fund column called a “fund balance”. In reality, these funds are surplus funds accumulated over the years and are unassigned to any budgeted operations category. In looking at the Bulloch county budget online, page 1,they are showing a fund balance of $53 million. These funds could be spent for any operations category within the general fund to keep from having to raise taxes. But they don’t spend them, claiming they are for emergency situations and property tax revenue fluctations early in the school year. The problem with the funds balance is that school systems are hoarding this money and raising taxes anyway. The second issue is that Georgia law prohibits school systems from allocating an amount more that 15% of the total general budget towards this unassigned fund balance. That law is in OCGA 20-1-167. Here is an excerpt.

    “Each local school system may, however, establish a single reserve fund or reserve account intended to cover unanticipated deficiencies in revenue or unanticipated expenditures, provided that the budget for any year shall not allocate to such reserve fund or reserve account any amounts which, when combined with the existing balance in such fund or account, exceed 15 percent of that year’s total budget. A local school system may also establish one or more capital accumulation funds or accounts, and amounts may be allocated to such capital accumulation funds or accounts for expenditure in future budget years only if the purpose for which such amounts will be expended and the anticipated date of expenditure of such amounts are clearly and specifically identified. The purpose of this paragraph is to prohibit local school systems from accumulating surplus funds through taxation without accounting to the taxpayers for how such funds will be expended, and this paragraph shall be liberally construed to accomplish this purpose.”

    Based on the Bulloch county school budget that is online, Bulloch county has 50% of their budget assigned to this surplus fund balance category, 35% more than the limit. The school board will claim that the 15% limit is little more than a target, and that it is a common practice, but the law clearly states “shall not allocate.” Shall not allocate is not the equivalent of a target. So, this dirty little secret goes on across the state in many counties. I’m not sure how many, but it includes Upson County. But still, the Boards of Education go ahead increase millage rates to receive the tax equalization funds, when they could actually keep the tax rates as they are, or lower them. Its a mess that needs attention from the legislature or an opinion from the attorney general.

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