Tift County Schools budget to come with taxpayer savings, more resource officers

The Tift County School Board recently approved a tentative budget that will roll back the millage rate by one mill. / Mary Green

Governments and school boards across Southwest Georgia are putting the finishing touches on their upcoming budgets at this time, and one local school system said smart decisions it made in the past are about to save taxpayer dollars.

The Tift County School Board recently approved a tentative budget that will roll back the millage rate by one mill. That means taxpayers will save $1 in property taxes for every $1,000 at which their property is taxed.

Tift Schools CFO Klinton Guess said this is the first time they've rolled back the millage rate in several years.

He said this rollback will cost the school system about $957,000 in revenue.

But Guess said a big reason the school system is able to afford this is because of Governor Nathan Deal's decision to fully fund the Quality Basic Education formula, which saves Tift County about $800,000, according to Guess.

The rest of the money to cover this rollback will come from savings in the fund balance, which Guess said are available because of "strong financial decisions" made in the past by the school board and superintendent.

"We want to be good stewards of the money that the taxpayers of Tift County and the State of Georgia have entrusted us with, and part of that is, when we realized that we were stable and we have a solid fund balance, to try to reduce that millage rate," he said.

Guess said they might make some minor changes to the budget before the final version is presented to the board for approval at their June meeting.

Savings aren't the only thing included in this budget: So too is safety.

The budget sets aside funding to place full-time school resource officers at all Tift County schools.

Up to this point, only the middle and high schools had full-time officers, but the primary schools will soon have them as well.

"We feel that our school system is very safe currently, but recent events show us that you can always improve. This is an area that we would like to improve some, so that has been included in this budget as well," Guess said.

Guess said there is an overall deficit in this budget, but he noted much of that includes one-time capital projects that are mostly covered by the fund balance and will not recur again in the future.

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