Yes, your property taxes are in fact increasing, as values increase and the Board refuses to lower the millage rate accordingly. Can you say, “Windfall”?

free-moneyWe have long said that our budgetary recovery is simply due to the fact that although property values have recovered, the Board has never returned the ‘temporary’ millage rate increase approved by the Board for 2012, endorsed and upheld by Ramona Tyson, Cheryl Atkinson and Michael Thurmond as sitting superintendents, in order to recover property tax revenues lost from decreasing property values of the recession. This increased tax collection due to increased property values has resulted in at least a $100 million Windfall for the school board’s ‘budgets’ the last two years.

Read this perfectly explained letter sent to us from David S, a District 4 Taxpayer >>

Dr. Melvin Johnson, Chair
DeKalb County Board of Education
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd.
Stone Mountain, GA

Dr. Johnson:

As a long-time resident and tax-payer in DeKalb County, I am quite disappointed that the Board has decided to raise property taxes once again to fund a burgeoning budget rather than taking a more responsible position and getting rid of unneeded programs and excessive administrative staff. Disappointed, but not surprised.

Having accepted this action of the Board, I’ve looked for the Notice of Property Tax Increase that you are required by law to post and have been unable to find it, either in a local newspaper, as required, or on the School Board website, also required. Nor have I seen a DCBOE press release advertising your intention to raise property taxes (also required).

I do note, however, that you have scheduled “Public Budget and Millage Rate Hearings,” on both June 1 and June 17. I sincerely hope that these scheduled meetings are not meant to take the place of the Property Tax Increase hearings because (1) it violates Georgia law, and (2) it would appear that the Board is hiding something from the public (we certainly don’t want that).

Since, at times, it seems as though we have more lawyers working for the school system than we do educators, I’m wondering if you might have one of them review Georgia Department of Revenue Regulation 560-11-2-58 (http://dor.georgia.gov/rollback-millage-rate-when-digest-value-increased-reassessments) and verify if my understanding is correct. As I read it, in order for you, as a “levying authority,” to raise property taxes, you must do the following:

  • Schedule three Property Tax Increase hearings [Par (4) (b) 1]
  • Advertise each, at least a week prior to the hearing [Par (4) (b) 2(i)]
  • Advertise each in a local paper, and on your website [Par (4) (b) 2(i)].
  • The advertisements must be specifically titled, “Notice of Property Tax Increase,” and contain specific information regarding the dollar increase in property tax [Par (4) (b) 2(i)].
  • Along with the advertisements, the Board must issue a press release to local media announcing its intention to raise property taxes [Par (4) (b) 2(viii)].
  • The Board must provide evidence of compliance with these and all other requirements in this regulation before the tax commissioner can authorize the collection of higher property taxes [Par (5) (a)].

Please let me know when this process will begin. Or, if I have simply missed the advertisements and the press release, please direct me to them.

Thank you.

You may also wish to read >>

Property Taxes Increasing In DeKalb

Something does not compute

DeKalb School District Boosts Budget Surplus to $30.9 Million: Truth be Told

So, exactly how did Michael Thurmond ‘balance’ DeKalb Schools’ budget?

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6 Responses to Yes, your property taxes are in fact increasing, as values increase and the Board refuses to lower the millage rate accordingly. Can you say, “Windfall”?

  1. Murphey says:

    I believe the official legal newspaper for DeKalb county is The Champion. I live in the northern part of DeKalb and have never seen it available anywhere near me. There is usually a stack in the AIC lobby. It is also available at http://www.thechampionnewspaper.com.

  2. The Wiz says:

    Excuse me, uh we need a little more money, er, uh we mean more taxes? . .

    Let’s see . . . if I have this correct. According to the printed/released/advertised information regarding Dr. Green’s new contact, it has numerous financial components. For fun, let’s throw out the deferred compensation or retention bonus, the benefits, etc., and just look at the daily “Slush Puppie” aspect part of the contract that the BOE so graciously offered and Dr. Green graciously accepted. Slush Puppies can be tasty, if you are on the right end of the straw!

    Lest I digress . . . .

    This 3 year contract of $300,000 + $31,200 (12 x $2,600–slush) + $9,000 (12 x $750–car) is worth at LEAST a minimum of $1,020,600 if he stays the full three years. A new, young, energetic teacher in DeKalb starts off at $36,391 according to the DCSD web site. And if this new teacher started in DeKalb within the last 6 or 7 years, they have not received a cost of living increase or a step increase. And, with the deductions of furlough days, etc. in 5 of those 6 years this new, young, energetic teacher has brought home less. Not to mention their insurance premiums are taking bigger bites out of their monthly pay.

    But the point I would like to make is that if you take the total basic cash value of this new Superintendent’s 3 year contract at $1,020,600 and divide it by $36,391, you get 28.04. This means that this not so new *experienced), not as young (seasoned), not as energetic (but trying to be innovative and relevant) teacher will earn in his/her 30 year teaching career about what the new Superintendent will get in 3–if he lasts! I know there are other factors, but, how pitiful is that?

    However, the real point that I would like to address is the fact that the district wants more money, er, a more tax money. From my observations, the DCSD budget is formed from a variety of sources. 1. Local taxes. 2. State Taxes. 3. Federal Taxes and Grants. 4. Donations, gifts, miscellaneous. Please note, to receive money from any these four sources or categories they (DCSD) DO NOT have to work to get it. They are just handed all of this money from these various sources (with a few stings attached), throw it in a big stew pot, stir it up and spend it the way the Board of Education, the Superintendent and the Administration sees fit–or unfit. Part of this “money stew” is the new Superintendent’s “Slush Puppie” monthly expense fund of $2,600.

    So why with a annual salary of $300,000 or approximately $5,769 a week, would he need an additional $600 each week “walking around pocket cash”? I mean, 95% of his job should be within the county boundaries. Not like he will be commuting to Kennesaw. (Besides that, he is also getting handed $750\ a month for a nice set of wheels.) At $600 a week, that would effectively be $120 per work day to frivolously, “slush puppie” spend. If he is working the 8-10 hours daily that he is getting paid to do, how in the world will he have the time to spend $120 EACH day? The restaurants surrounding the A.I.C. are not that extravagant or expensive. And, if he is working hard on behalf of the students, teachers and community, he shouldn’t have time for a $120 lunch EVERY day. But, they want more taxes–so the the “Big Dogs” can continue to eat more stew at DeKalb’s Friends and Family trough.

    In conclusion, I vote no, to more or higher taxes and no to the highest millage rate in the ATL. I hope that the new, not so young, energetic Dr. Green is one lean and mean educational machine and this supposedly seasoned”Junkyard Dog” gets serious and puts students first!

    So sad that they (DCSD Board) think we are not watching or listening or hearing. When we do, they think that we are totally stupid. I didn’t go to no Ivy League school or get my degree from a “Friends and Family” online mail order college diploma mill, but I can do the math. And this new math and money for this new and unproven Superintendent–paid in advance stinks to high heaven and above!

  3. Pingback: Updates from the Monday, June 1 Board Meeting | dekalb school watch two

  4. Nancy Jester just sent out an email explaining the county tax increase as well as the school tax. We could never have explained it better!

    Read the whole post here >> DeKalb Doubles Down on More Taxes – County and Schools

    Here’s the relevant school tax part >>

    School Taxes

    Taxpayers should also note that they will, likely, be paying substantially more in school taxes. Taxes that are paid to the county are kept in check by the assessment freeze that holds your property assessment value at the 2007 level, unless sold or renovated. However, the assessment freeze is not applied in your school tax calculation. So, as your assessment grows, so do your school taxes. DeKalb County has the second highest school millage rate in the state. Click here for a list of the millage rates for every school district in the state. Most school districts have a cap of 20 mills for their school tax. DeKalb is one of a few counties that have a cap of 25 mills. The reason? Many years ago, DeKalb had 5 additional mills available because they had the liability of running DeKalb College; which was founded by the DeKalb Board of Education in 1958. In 1986, the Board of Regents of The University System of Georgia accepted DeKalb College as a member institution and assumed liability for its operation. DeKalb College is now run as Georgia Perimeter College and Georgia Piedmont Technical College under the University System.

    Once again, as with the formation of cities in DeKalb, we have a “balance sheet” issue. As the liability for the operations of DeKalb College left the school district, so should have the ability to tax past the 20 mill limit of school districts around the state. Both the county government and the school district need to adjust their operations and budgets for the reality of the services they need to provide.

    DeKalb, both county and school district, has bloated bureaucracy and poor performance delivery. You’re paying for a 2015 Mercedes-Benz S and you’re getting a 1971 Pinto. Adjustments in both costs and outcomes must be made. We should be paying less and getting better results.

    Keep in mind that DeKalb County schools does not even meet the state requirement of spending 65% of the budget in the classroom (on “direct instructional expenses”). Click here to read an article on this problem. The new budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning on July 1st (FY16) isn’t going to hit the 65% mark either.

  5. J. Max Hosts Townhall on How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment
    With DeKalb reassessing homes unfairly, now is the time to appeal them. J. Max will have experts available to answer questions on the process.

    Again we are seeing the DeKalb government unfairly raise many people’s assessments on their homes. To help combat these increases, J. Max Davis is holding a Townhall with experts to answer your questions and tell you how to appeal your property tax reassessment.

    When:
    Thursday, June 11th at 6:30 pm

    Where:
    Brookhaven Christian Church
    4500 Peachtree Road
    Brookhaven, GA 30319
    in the Fellowship Hall

    [To which we say, “Good luck with that!]

  6. NEWS FLASH .. Board approved lowering millage rate by .25

    It’s a start – but not much, considering they raised the millage rate 1 full point in 2012 during the ‘Great Recession’… This was done at the request of then superintendent Ramona Tyson, by a vote of 5 to 4 by the board that was later ‘fired’ by the Governor.

    It is also worth noting that DeKalb County School System (DCSS) required 5 mils of property taxes when it established DeKalb Community College when Jim Cherry was superintendent. Years later, when DeKalb Community College became part of the University System of Georgia and was no longer owned or funded by DCSS the 5 mils was not rolled back.

    DeKalb schools vote to raise taxes, cut 477 jobs [And no, those were not central office jobs]
    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/education/dekalb-schools-vote-raise-taxes-cut-477-jobs/nPcL9/

    [Interesting comment from the above article, “The good thing about all this negativity is that a sleeping giant has been awakened. We now, as parents, are going to be very active in our school board,” said parent Tanya Graham.” .. Where oh where are you Tanya Graham? Are you very active in your school board? Let us know how it’s going for you.]

    More history on the Subject >>

    Property Taxes Increasing In DeKalb
    Posted on June 18, 2014 by Stan Jester
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2014/06/1822/

    The Schoolhouse Squeeze, A report from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
    http://gbpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Schoolhouse-Squeeze-Report-09232013.pdf

    The millage rate cap of 20 mills was set in the Georgia Constitution of 1983. City school districts, however, are exempt from the cap as are those districts whose millage rates were above 20 when the Constitution was passed. (Ross Rubenstein and David Sjoquist, Financing Georgia’s Schools: A Primer. Fiscal Research Center, Georgia State University, 2003. http://aysps.gsu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/frc/report87.pdf) In 2012, the most recent year available, there were five districts with millage rates above 20: Atlanta City, Decatur City, DeKalb County, Muscogee County and Rockdale County.

    And for a little truth o meter by Stan, read one of our favorite posts of his >>

    04/17/2013 Michael Thurmond at ELPC
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2013/04/140/

    We do hope Stan continues reporting the Truth o Meter!

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