The Fulton County Board of Education is planning to host three millage rate public hearings before approving Fulton County Schools’ millage rate and a property tax increase for the 2020-21 fiscal/academic year.

According to a news release, while the millage rate is remaining at 17.796, the lowest among school districts in metro Atlanta for the 11th straight year, the board plans to raise property taxes by 1.04% over the rollback millage rate.

The public is invited to attend and provide comments at the public hearings, which are required by state law. They will take place as follows:

♦ July 14 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. (two hearings): North Learning Center, 450 Northridge Pkwy., Sandy Springs

♦ July 23 at 6 p.m.: South Learning Center, 4025 Flat Shoals Road, Union City

The board is expected to adopt the millage rate and tax increase at its July 23 meeting following the final public hearing. Even though the district’s tentative millage rate of 17.796 mills is not changing, this is considered a tax increase because there is not a millage rollback to offset increases in property assessments.

Each year, for property tax purposes, the board of tax assessors is required to review the assessed value of taxable property in the county. When the trend of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicates there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the board of tax assessors is required by law to re-determine the value of such property and increase and adjust the assessment. This is called a reassessment.

District leaders talked about the millage rate and tax increase.

“Millage rates are used to calculate the property taxes that fund public schools and other community services. In Fulton County, millage consists of a combined maintenance and operations (M&O) rate and a debt-service rate,” Marvin Dereef, the district’s chief financial officer, said in the release. “We intend to keep the previous fiscal year’s M&O millage rate of 17.796 the same, but there is no proposed millage rate for debt service since the school district will soon be free of long-term debt.”

School board president Julia Bernath added, “The school board made a commitment to aggressively pay off the school bonds borrowed many years ago so that those funds can be directed toward our schools instead of toward interest rates and bankers’ fees. This kind of financial foresight is what keeps Fulton County Schools in a strong position when faced with state budget cuts and unforeseen situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic that is requiring many safety resources to protect our students and staff.”

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