The Cobb County Board of Education voted 4-2 this afternoon to raise its property tax rate to 20 mills, then used $22.2 million from excess SPLOST II funds to roll back the millage rate to the current 18.9 mills.
Vice Chairman Scott Sweeney of East Cobb’s Post 6, Lynnda Crowder-Eagle of West Cobb’s Post 1, David Morgan of South Cobb’s Post 3, and David Banks of Northeast and East Cobb’s Post 5 voted for the millage rate during the special meeting. Chairwoman Alison Bartlett of Post 7, located south and west of Marietta, and Kathleen Angelucci of North Cobb’s Post 4 voted against it.
“I don’t believe there were any other alternatives at this time,” Crowder-Eagle said.
“This puts into place the funding necessary to provide for the quality education the citizens of Cobb County have come to expect and which this board is elected to maintain,” Banks said.
Sweeney said it was “very important” to pass the resolution, and he thanked Chief Financial Officer Mike Addison and his staff for the “fantastic job” they did through the budget process.
Angelucci said she didn’t remember the board voting to raise the rate to 20 mills.
Bartlett explained that former Superintendent Fred Sanderson brought the board a budget based on 20 mills, and the board approved that budget. The board also declared the SPLOST II funds to be excess and approved using the $22.2 million to buy down the millage rate.
“We can vote to approve whatever millage we want, but the budget is set on us approving a 20-mill budget,” Bartlett told Angelucci. “If we choose to vote on an 18.9-mill budget, we would then (have) taxpayers see a reduction in their taxes from the excess funds that we agreed to refund to the taxpayers from SPLOST II.”
Bartlett again expressed concerns that the 2012 budget spends $34 million more than the revenue, using savings the Cobb County School District had this year. She’s worried how the district will fare if the state resumes the practice of making midyear austerity cuts in its funding after a one-year hiatus.
She asked Addison what reserves the district will have entering the 2011-12 school year next month.
“What I’ve seen so far indicates the fund balance is going to increase above the $34 million that we’re reserving for FY ’12’s budget,” Addison said. “How much it will increase I don’t know, but I’m guessing it’s going to increase in the millions.”
The school board will meet again at 7 p.m. Thursday for its lone scheduled July meeting.