COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education approved a millage rate less than the rollback rate at its monthly meeting Tuesday night.
The school board unanimously approved the millage rate for maintenance and operations at the maxed-out rate of 20 mills. It was a recommendation of Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews, who was absent from the meeting due to health reasons; school board Vice Chair Jeff Meadors also was absent for family issues.
Although the rollback rate -- or the rate at which the Newton County School System would collect the same amount of local revenues as last school year -- is 22.064 mils, by law NCSS cannot have a rate higher than 20 mills.
The millage rate for debt service was increased to 1.90 mills, compared to 1.073 mills last year, which was up from 1 mill the year before, a rate that was held since at least 2007.
NCSS Deputy Superintendent for Operations Dennis Carpenter said the millage rate for debt service was increased in order to be able to meet debt service obligations, including principal and interest payments on bond debt issued in 1996 and 1997, as well as interest payments on bonds issued in 2012.
Previously, the millage rate for maintenance and operations was at 20 mills in 2011 and 2012, and prior to that, it was 18.21 mills from at least 2007 to 2010, according to the millage rate history provided by NCSS.
The net taxes levied with the rate is expected to be more than $39 million, compared to nearly $44 million last year and more than $47 million the previous year. That is more than a 10.37 percent, or about $4.5 million, decrease from last year's collection.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, as is customary, the school board gave Mathews permission to employ or transfer staff during the first month of school depending on demand.