MCSD: Talk of property tax increase is causing confusion

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Muscogee County School Board is worried that there is a misunderstanding of what the proposed millage rate increase means. 

Around town, people are talking about their confusion.  So, they held a forum to allow residents to voice their opinion and get questions answered.

Valerie Fuller of the Muscogee County School Board said, "We are struggling basically to prepare a balanced budget within the funds available to us."

The Muscogee County School Board is looking at more than $18 million being removed from next year's budget.

Talks about bigger class sizes, a change in tuition fees, and an increase in the millage rate has people upset.

A Columbus resident, George Nix, understands that education is important but does not want to pay any more taxes.  "You cannot short change education, it is like the saying 'out of the frying pan, into the fire.'"

A notice in the local paper entitled 'Property Tax Increase' has lots of people concerned that the school board is increasing property taxes.

Fuller said, that is not the case, "That is not saying that the millage rate is being increased or that there is going to be a new tax.  That is just what we have to do legally in order to be able to benefit if there is any revenue."

Although property values are decreasing in many cities and counties in Georgia due to the recession, it is a different story here in Columbus. 

Fuller explained, "We are fortunate here in Muscogee County that we are seeing property remain relatively stable. So, if there is any increase in property value this year which results in additional revenue then the school district would be able to accept the revenue."

Columbus residents we talked to just do not want to see the quality of education in the county decline. 

One said, "So many people do not know about millage rate, what really affects them, especially with the local government.  They know they get a tax bill, and that is about it.  They do not know what it goes for and how it's figured.  And there again, that's why I say education is so important."

The School Board will not be voting on the millage rate Monday night.  The meeting was just a public forum.  The other forums will be Monday, May 17th at 6 p.m. and June 7th at 5p.m.

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