The budget is up but taxes are not in the Walton County School District as the early budget numbers shot up for the coming school year.
The Walton County Board of Education approved the tentative budget for the 2021-22 school year, voting 6-0, with only District 2 member Karen Brown absent, to go forward with the $134.8 million budget, an increase over last year’s $131.2 million budget.
That increase comes despite a continued austerity cut of 4.3% in state funding as the improving economy is letting the board take in more funds to cover the coming school year.
Revenue has improved enough, in fact, that the board voted to accept the rollback millage rate, which will take in only as much as last year’s millage rate. The combined 20.832 rate will see no increase in school taxes for Walton County residents.
Nathan Franklin, superintendent of the WCSD, said it was a decision made to meet the needs of the school system while also benefitting local homeowners.
“We feel we can meet our schools’ needs with this rate,” Franklin said. “It’s the lowest overall millage rate in 10 years.”
The WCBOE will vote next month to finalize the budget and millage rate for the coming school year, as will the Social Circle Board of Education, in part. The city school system approved its final budget of $19 million last month but is waiting for final county tax digest numbers to roll in before approving its 19.278 millage rate at its August meeting.
In other school news, both school boards approved the final referendum for the continuation of the Education Local Options Sales Tax, or ELOST VI. The 1% sales tax will be placed on the ballot this November to allow voters to choose whether to continue the ELOST for another five years to raise funds for school construction and infrastructure needs going forward.