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Brad Johnson, Cobb County School District’s chief financial officer.

MARIETTA — Superintendent Chris Ragsdale’s proposal to keep the Cobb County School District’s tax rate steady will result in a tax increase of 4.88% in its general fund, according to announcement from the district.

A vote to adopt the tax rate will take place at 7 p.m. July 18.

The district’s $1.16 billion fiscal 2020 budget was approved in May and is about $90 million larger than fiscal 2019’s budget.

The increased revenue sent to the school district is a result of Cobb County’s growing tax digest. New construction and rising values of existing homes and businesses allow the district to collect more money while maintaining the current property tax rate.

Brad Johnson, the district’s chief finance officer, said the approved fiscal 2020 budget includes tax revenues from 5.44% growth in the overall 2019 tax digest. The budget also assumed a millage rate of 18.9 mills, the same millage rate as last year.

When the district’s tax digest is prepared, Georgia law requires the computation of a “rollback” millage rate, or the tax rate the district would have to levy in order to collect the same amount of revenue as it did the previous year.

Because the school district’s proposed general fund millage of 18.9 is higher than the rollback rate of 18.021, state law requires the school board to advertise the budget as a tax increase as well as hold three hearings to allow the public a chance to weigh in on the issue.

The school board met Wednesday for the first of those hearings. No one from the public attended to speak.

Should the school district choose to roll back the millage rate, Johnson said it would lose $23 million in property taxes, or 2% of its approved general fund tax revenue for fiscal 2020.

He said sustaining the millage rate, which will result in higher property taxes for properties within the school district’s digest, is necessary to keep up with inflation, utility costs, staff raises and other increasing costs. Johnson said the Cobb School District rarely rolls back its millage rate.

“All costs go up to some extent, and so somehow, we’ve got to fund those extra costs,” he said, adding that the district needs the additional money because the 2020 budget includes the use of $18 million from reserves.

In May, Johnson told the MDJ a Cobb homeowner who owns an average-priced home can expect to pay about $2,200 in school tax in fiscal 2020 — about $121 more than last fiscal year.

The next public hearings will be Thursday, July 18, at noon and 6:30 p.m. at the Cobb school board meeting room at 514 Glover St., Marietta. The school board is expected to adopt the millage rate at its 7 p.m. meeting that evening.

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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