The Cobb Board of Education is expected to keep the district’s millage rate the same, despite a slight decrease in the amount of money 18.9 mills could collect in countywide property taxes.
The board meets this morning to vote on the millage rate, and if it is approved at the same level, the district could potentially collect about $339.5 million in property taxes during Fiscal 2014, an amount that is 2.08 percent, or $7.2 million, less than what was collected in Fiscal 2013.
Brad Johnson, the district’s chief financial officer, said he wasn’t too discouraged by the 2 percent decrease in anticipated collections. While he expects a revenue loss, it’s much less than in past years.
In 2012, the district collected 5.6 percent less in taxes than the prior year and in 2011, 9.4 percent less.
Five years ago, in Fiscal 2009’s budget, the district collected $425.1 million in property taxes, almost $85.6 million more than in 2014.
Every percentage point is worth about $3.5 million, Johnson said.
“The economy is slowly getting better,” he said. “We hope that next year there won’t be any decline. The trend is heading in the right direction.”
In May, the board approved a Fiscal 2014 budget with flat growth, or no decline or increase in collections.
With property tax collections coming in at negative 2 percent, Johnson said the board will consider approving a Fiscal 2014 budget revision at its meeting Wednesday.
Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn, who represents northwest Cobb, said he doesn’t believe board members are interested in altering the millage rate.
“There’s no concern (with keeping the rate the same) that I can see because we budget on a conservative basis and housing startups are picking up and we think in the next year that our revenues will start increasing, but the budget’s still too tight to lower the rate,” he said.
Northeast Cobb board member David Banks hasn’t heard anything different from board members either but still questions the estimated 2 percent decrease in property tax collections.
“When we were going through the budget debate in March, April and May, I felt like (collections) were going to be neutral and I still do,” he said.
Banks believes evidence in the flat growth is obvious from the new houses and subdivisions he sees being built throughout the county.
“What’s amazing is that they are actually selling those houses,” Banks said.
“The district has always been very conservative but still with that, we have about $100 million in the bank that nobody has assigned any usage to, so even if it turned out to be factual, it’s not critical,” he said.
Banks is referring to the district’s estimated $100 million reserve fund.
The public is invited to comment on the millage rate at 8:30 a.m. followed by the 9 a.m. vote Thursday. The meeting will be at the district’s central office at 514 Glover St. in Marietta.