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Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars says there's no change to millage rate

Rome City Schools

The Rome City Schools millage rate is set to stay at 17.45 mills for the eighth consecutive year, said Superintendent Lou Byars on Wednesday, during the first of two public hearings on the system’s preliminary Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Byars relayed his request for not changing the millage rate, pending the release of the tax digest, to members of the City Commission Finance Committee on Wednesday morning. The millage rate was hiked up 1.55 mills in FY 2011.

Under the school system’s current millage rate and excluding exemptions, tax bills are $698 on a $100,000 home, $1,047 on a $150,000 home and $1,396 on a $200,000 home.

A mill equals a tenth of a cent, and the millage rate is the amount of tax paid on each dollar of a property’s assessed value.

A second public hearing on the budget will be held Monday at 6:30 a.m. during the City Commission meeting. The budget will then go before the board of education on June 13.

The budget shows projected revenues at $55,875,052, which includes an increase of $2,931,118 in state revenues from last year.

Projected expenditures total $53,837,296, and include $3.5 million in school administration and $4.59 million in maintenance and operations. Also, the employer contribution rate for the Teacher Retirement System will jump up to 16.81 percent from 14.27 percent, adding over $800,000, which will come out of the increase in state revenues.

The end balance is projected to be $2.03 million, which would represent an increase of $515,207 from last year. Byars told the committee he hopes that balance will increase under the new tax digest.

The budget includes the addition of 17 positions, including 11 classroom teachers for elementary schools. The system has also brought on Brittney Wilson as the first assistant superintendent since the 2010-2011 school year, along with Tashia Twyman, who will focus on community outreach, and Kristina Wilder for public relations.

Wilson, who was at Wednesday’s hearing and was formerly the chief academic officer for Calhoun City Schools, will play a major role in helping develop a college and career academy at Rome High School, Byars said. The CCA is a project that’s expected to be included in a new education local options sales tax package, which is being readied to go before voters in November.

Both Twyman and Wilder will be integral in improving the network of communication between the school system and parents, staff and the community, Byars said. The initiative is one of the board of education’s proposed goals for next year.

The system also is directing funds to improve STEM education, as the budget sets out an additional $125,000 for computer software related to STEM programs.