Dade County schools OK 1.25 mill tax hike: Owner of $125,000 home will pay $56 more annually

Dade County schools OK 1.25 mill tax hike: Owner of $125,000 home will pay $56 more annually

August 1st, 2013 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

When tax bills are mailed in October, Dade County, Ga., residents who pay school taxes can expect to see their payments go up.

By a 3-2 vote, the Dade County Schools board on Monday night approved a 1.25-mill increase to the current millage rate of 13.92, which brings the school’s total rate to 15.17 mills.

For someone living in a $125,000 home, that means an additional $56 annually in taxes. It will generate $493,750 for the school district, Superintendent Shawn Tobin said.

Tobin compared the tax hike of $4.60 a month favorably to the $4.99-plus-tax that he said a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder meal costs locally.

“It’s more expensive to get an extra-value Quarter Pounder every month than it is to pay the millage increase,” he said.

Board Chairwoman Carolyn Bradford and board member Cindy Shaw voted against the millage hike. Supporting it were board members Jeff Forester, Johnny Warren and David Powell.

“Two years ago I made a promise to the taxpayers of Dade County, and I honored that promise,” Bradford said in response to an email asking why she opposed the hike. “School systems across the state of Georgia have seen dramatic cuts. Dade County is no different. Our Board of Education has worked very hard along with our superintendent to save money over the past few years. The main focus has always been what’s best for students.”

Even with the increase, Dade’s millage rate ranks in the bottom third statewide, according to Tobin.

Also, Dade County exempts residents 65 and older from paying school property tax on their primary homes. Tobin said 1,672 seniors have signed up for the tax exemption. If they would have paid $300 each — which is a low estimate for annual school taxes, Tobin said — that would cost the district about $500,000 in revenue annually.

<em>Contact Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.</em>