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Board to OK no millage increase this year

Local property owners have received their share of bad news in the amount of taxes they've had to pay the past two years. There is one bit of good news on the horizon, though. The Board of Education is set to approve the annual millage today, and there will be no increase this year.

"That will be great news for voters," BOE Vice-Chairman Rick McCorkle said in an e-mail.

McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun said they calculated the tax collection default rate at two percent, rather than the typical one percent, due to the poor economy and foreclosures.

"This is a conservative move, of course," he said. "And I will not be recommending a millage increase."

The school board has anxiously awaited receiving the tax digest from the tax assessor's office so they could set the millage.

As previously reported in The McDuffie Mirror, the tax digest was two months later than usual getting to the BOE and the county commission this year, due to reassessments.

As required by law, the BOE and county then had to advertise their Five-Year Tax Levy History for two weeks before they could approve the millage.

If everything goes as scheduled, the tax commissioner's office will be sending out the tax bills the first week of December, according to Kay Ennis, chief deputy tax commissioner. Ms. Ennis said the deadline for payment is 60 days after the bills are mailed, which means the money won't come in until early February.

School comptroller Tom Smalley said each year the finance department uses money set aside in fund balance to cover expenses until ad valorem tax money starts rolling in. At that time, he said the fund balance is replenished. Because tax collections have been delayed this year, the fund balance will be depleted before the revenues begin.

Mr. Smalley said at the end of October last year, the school system received $967,973.79, compared to its receiving only $139,678.22 by the end of October this year. By the end of December last year, it had received a few dollars shy of $7 million. But no ad valorem taxes are coming in this year because the tax bills have not been sent out.

So, the BOE approved at their regular meeting last week to apply for a Tax Anticipation Note loan from SunTrust Bank.

Invitations to bid for the loan opportunity were sent to all local banks, with two responding, along with one out-of-county bank.

Closing on the TAN is scheduled for Friday.

Not only are local funds late coming to them, but the local school board also will face less funds from the state next year.

The full-time-enrollment number of students is down 51 students this year, compared to last, which will mean $300,000 less next year.

Web posted on Thursday, November 19, 2009

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