School system proposes keeping millage at 20

COVINGTON — A proposal to keep the school system’s maintenance and operations millage rate at 20 was presented during the first of three public hearings on the millage Thursday night.

If approved, the proposal would allow the school system to give teachers a 3 percent pay increase rather than the 2 percent that was included in the 2015 fiscal year budget approved last month.

Since 2009 teachers have seen reduced work days, stagnant wages, decreased employer contributions to retirement and increased out-of-pocket costs for health insurance. Even with a 3 percent increase, school system officials pointed out that a teacher with 10 years of experience would still be earning about $1,000 less in salary and benefits than in 2009.

Based on a millage rate of 20 and a projected tax digest increase of about 6.84 percent, the school system expects to collect $39,509,584 in local property taxes in fiscal year 2015. That total is about $2.5 million more than was collected in fiscal 2014 but still $14 million less than was collected in 2010.

In addition, to keeping the M&O millage at 20 mills, the administration proposes to reduce the bond millage from 1.9 mills to .45 mills. Special purpose local option sales tax revenues will be used to offset that decrease beginning in 2015.

According to the school system’s calculations, the combination of keeping the M&O millage at 20 and reducing the bond millage will result in a slight decrease in overall school taxes for the owner of a home valued at $100,000 in the 2015 tax digest. M&O taxes on the home will increase by about $52, according to the school system’s calculations, while the bond tax will decrease by about $53.

Peggy Bullard, business manager for the school system, said what homeowners will actually pay depends on their property assessment in the new digest.

“If the value of your home (increased) 7 percent or less, you are likely to pay the same or less in taxes for 2015,” she said.

Because keeping the millage at 20 amounts to an increase in tax collections, the BOE is required to hold three public hearings before setting the millage rate. Two more public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, July 22, at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Central Office on Newton Drive. Board members are expected to vote on the millage following the 7 p.m. public hearing.