Walker County School Board of Education member Bobby McNabb was the lone standout on the five-member entity tasked with determining if raising property taxes was the right way to fund the 2019-2020 new operational budget for the local school system.

McNabb declined to provide an explanation for his decision when contacted, simply choosing to make his position known with a “no” hand raise during the voting on Thursday, July 25th.

The other four board members — Karen Stoker, Phyllis Hunter, Dale Wilson, and Mike Carruth — raised their hands in a show of support for the measure to be approved, which will raise local property taxes in order to fund the school system’s new budget for 2019-2020.

The tentative budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 was $85,452,679 for salaries and benefits in the budget and $9,149,488 for operational expenses.

More teacher pay raises coming

Damon Raines, the school system’s superintendent, shared some new information at this most recent meeting, telling the audience that:

“I don’t want to get pitted against the governor, because we appreciate what he is trying to do (by giving teacher’s raises), but maybe in that whole thought process they didn’t think through it as far as they could.”

According to Raines, “They want to continue local control, but they also want to please the voting base. The teachers are a large voting base. But, we did approach him and let him know what kind of pressure that is going to put on the local budget.”

“The fear is that, initially, he guaranteed $5,000, but we are already contemplating when does the other two ($2,000) show up. Because that is going to continue a little bit of pressure on us locally to be able to fund that,” Raines said.

The school superintendent lamented that the governor did not choose to design the raise via a percentage method, which he says would have “been easier for us to do. But, we are working within the confines of what we were given and very appreciative of getting that as well.”

“But, then again, there could be more (coming), so we are going to have to figure out what that need is going to look like as well,” Raines said, referring to the other $2,000 the governor guaranteed out of the billions found in the coffers at the state level, which he chose to share with the teaching segment of the state at this time.

Tax commissioner: “Don’t cheat yourself”Tax Commissioner Carolyn Walker said that her office encourages anyone aged 70 and older to come into her office in order to be assisted with an assessment that will determine if (and how much) their taxes could be reduced due to exemptions that are available.

Walker is concerned that elderly individuals do not understand this exemption process.

“We don’t want them to cheat themselves (out of the exemption),” she said. Some elderly people might not have to pay anything in taxes regarding the new millage rate increase, while others might have some to pay.

“We ask them to bring in their most recent tax return when they come,” Walker said, since a lot of people get confused about whether they are eligible or not. We want to make sure everyone who is eligible receives the correct exemption amount.

“Some do not understand that the exemption is not based upon what they receive from social security. Instead, it is based on net earned income,” she said.

Jan Morris is assistant editor for the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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