Tax exemptions for seniors?
JOLT again asks school board to exempt seniors 65 and older from paying school taxes
By Kathryn Schiliro
JOLT (Jobs, Opportunities and Lower Taxes) representative Johnny Youngblood approached the Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) last Monday with a request the BOE consider exempting seniors from paying school taxes.
Youngblood cited JOLT-provided information that of the more than 4,000 occupied residences in the county, more than 1,000 belong to seniors 65 and older. He said that many of the county's seniors were on a fixed income and that school taxes were the greatest tax burden on seniors.
Youngblood suggested that the BOE consider cutting in-county seniors' school taxes by 50 percent for two years and then eliminating it altogether. With current numbers, this would mean more than $787,000 would have to be absorbed by the BOE or passed on to younger taxpayers.
Youngblood asked BOE members to go out and discuss this with their constituents and offered to come back and discuss it further in November.
As far as finances, the BOE began last month with more than $1.5 million in the operating fund. After receipts of more than $1.4 million, the deposit of a $2 million CD "in preparation for summer payroll," Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett said, and expeditures of more than $2.1 million, the BOE ended May with more than $2.8 million. The school board also has three CDs – one $4 million CD and two $2 million CDs – totaling $8 million in reserves. Near $6 million is held for payroll through later in the year.
Revenues from local ad valorem taxes are at a collection rate of 99 percent for this fiscal year: more than $13.2 million.
In the 11th month of FY 12, expenditures are at 84 percent of the more than $28 million projected, a "good effort," BOE Chairman Nelson Hale said.
The Education Local Option Sales Tax (ELOST) pot started May with more than $3.7 million and, following more than $312,000 in receipts and more than $7,000 in expenditures, ended the month with more than $4 million. The majority of the money spent – $6,500 – was used for air conditioning upgrades at Morgan County High School.
The school nutrition fund, independent of any local funds save for the money generated by those paying for their school lunches, started May with more than $325,000 and, after more than $132,000 in receipts and $103,000 in expenditures, ended the month with more than $354,000.
In other news:
• The BOE recognized 2012 retirees, including Lissa Phelps, Mary Lawrence, Ramona Howard, Julia Jameson, Sharon Maddox, Ruben Walker, Allen Crowley, Tim Savelle, Jeff Thomas, Kathryn Ellis, Cathy Lepkowski, Karen Martin, Connie Wilson and Claudette Williams.
• The Morgan County School System ended the 2011-2012 school year with 3,304 students enrolled, a 24-student decrease from last school year.
In related news, Director of Operations Bob Monk shared that the state projected the system would gain 204 students as a result of Baxter International when it's up and running.
• Kevin Price Contractors has started work on the new Freshman Academy building at MCHS, Monk said, i.e. dirt's being moved for underground utilities, water and sewer.
• Two of the system's four new buses have arrived, with the other two to be delivered in July, according to Monk. Further, the system was able to sell all three surplus buses.
• After accepting bids as to which bank to use for the school system's checking account – the BOE received bids from Bank of Madison, United Bank and SunTrust – Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett announced Bank of Madison's bid was the highest and was accepted.
• The BOE voted unanimously to approve International Baccalaureate course textbooks and to approve bids received from the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) Risk Management Services for property, fleet, liability, crime, and workers' compensation insurance. Monk assured the board that he looked into and researched this, and he felt it was the best decision.
Printed in the June 21, 2012 edition