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School system issues millage rate update

As a follow up from property tax notices that were sent out in May, we would like to take a moment to update you on the status of the 2022 millage rate.

• Notices sent out in May to Lamar County property owners included
reassessed values calculated with an estimated tax at the 2021 school millage rate of 16.101.

• A GA State Sales Tax report that was released Aug 4th, 2022 indicates Lamar County properties are considerably undervalued (outside the allowable 2% variance). Lamar County Schools do not plan to appeal the undervalued assessments.

• As published according to state law, Lamar County Schools plan to decrease the school millage rate from 16.101 in 2021 by a full mill to a rate
of 15.101 in 2022.

• A millage rate of 15.101 will be the lowest tax rate in Lamar since 2005 (17 years). Our student population has increased 25% since 2005.

•We recognizetheburdenonpropertyowners.Withamillagerateof15.101. The school system is incurring a deficit budget for the year, projected at -$380,000, which will be deducted from our fund balance.

• What does this mean to you? Taxes due on your property at 15.101 should be less than the notices which were sent in May (which were calculated on last year’s rate 16.101).

• If we are reducing the millage rate, why is this being advertised as a “tax increase”? The state requires we advertise a “tax increase” if more taxes are being collected than the previous year. As we are sure you are aware, Lamar has experienced record growth in the last year. All new homes, businesses, etc. generate property tax, resulting in higher collections than the previous year. The increase in property values from required reassessments results in more tax revenue as well.

• Why does the school system need the additional revenue? Good question. Due to inflation, every single line item in our budget has gone up: food, supplies, fuel, insurance, etc. Everything that cost citizens more, alsocost the school system more. We are also experiencing record growth with our student population. Over the last two years we’ve had to hire additional staff to account for the increase in enrollment. For example, we’ve hired two new
kindergarten teaching positions and their class sizes still average 22 students per class.

• The 2022 tax digest in Lamar County projects over $117 million in “tax exemptions” this year. This is a record high, and a record increase of over $12 million in exemptions from last year alone. Exemptions place an increased tax burden on all other property owners. Exemptions also penalize the school
system from receiving 100% of state funds.• As you can see from the attached millage rate chart from last year, Lamar County enjoys one of the lowest tax rates in central Georgia, despite a limited commercial tax base or revenue stream in our county (interstate traffic, etc).

Lamar will be decreasing the rate a full mill to 15.101, for 2022. Many systems on the list are not decreasing their millage rate. Some are proposing an increase.

• The Lamar County School System’s “per student expenditure” is far below the state average and amongst the lowest in the area.

We share in the frustration and concerns that mass inflation has caused Lamar County
residents, and we will continue to do our part to reduce the impact, while ensuring our
students receive a quality education.

We sincerely appreciate your support and strive to have an efficient school system that you can be proud of.

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