The words "tax increase" may be the official term for what the McDuffie County Board of Education will soon vote on, but property owners shouldn't expect the percentage of what they pay to go up.
"They require it to be called a tax increase, but I hate those words," said Superintendent of Schools Mark Petersen.
According to Dr. Petersen, the millage rate will stay the same for the coming year at 15.3 mills. But due to increased property values from reassessments as well as more properties on the tax rolls, the school system will take in 0.94 percent more taxes in 2007 than it did last year.
The school board can choose to roll the millage rate back to only collect the same amount of money as the current year, but with continuing cuts and unfunded mandates from the state, Dr. Petersen said the system couldn't afford to cut the increase.
"For the last several years, the state's been taking from us to the tune of about $3.5 million," Dr. Petersen said. "And with the pay raises that the state has mandated - 4 percent - and the austerity reduction of a half million dollars...I don't have a choice but to stay the same course."
The school board will hold three public hearings to allow members of the public to express their opinions on the increase. Concerned citizens should attend the meetings at the McDuffie County Board of Education office on Aug. 17 at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Aug. 24 at 6 p.m.