Joey Holland

Joey Holland

THOMASVILLE — The Thomas County Board of Education’s fiscal 2020 budget of $57.7 million reflects a 5.5 percent increase with no increase on property taxes.

The budget reflects growth of about 1.4 percent in the 2019 tax digest, said Joey Holland, deputy superintendent and chief financial officer.

“A combination of careful spending, enrollment growth and increases in state revenue have enabled us to present a very favorable budget for the coming school year,:” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Williams. “The budget provides modest, but well-deserved, salary increases while maintaining a low school property tax rate. I appreciate the hard work of (Joey) Holland, our directors and principals in crafting a budget that reflects the careful stewardship of our resources our public expects.”

Holland said the largest projected revenue increases are from state earnings based on student enrollment and equalization funds.

“The district will realize a 6 percent increase in Quality Basic Education funds due to growth in students enrollment in higher-funded areas and increases in state funding to support salary increases,” Holland explained.

The state equalization grant equalizes system with fewer students. The school district, he said, is “poor” from a tax digest standpoint based on per-pupil status.

“We get it because we are outside the city limits,” Holland said. “The system is on the lower end of tax digest wealth.”

Thomas County’s equalization grant increased from $4.3 million in fiscal year 2019, to $5.5 million in fiscal 2020, a 28 percent increase.

Increased salary and benefit costs account for 83 percent of the increase in expenditures. Certified employees — teachers, counselors and administrators — received a state-funded raise of $3,000 per year.

Non-certified employees received a 3 percent salary increase from local funds.

A 1.1 percent increase in the employer contribution to the employees’ teacher retirement fund also is in the fiscal 2020 budget.

Holland said the Thomas County School District’s tax rate of 14.3 mills is among the lowest in the state and 24 percent lower than the Thomasville City School System’s tax rate of 18.82 mills. In 2018, Thomas County Schools used only 29 percent of local funding for operations, compared to an average of 40 percent for all other school districts in the state, Holland said.

“The school district has historically provided a great benefit to local taxpayers by leveraging state funding to a great extent,” Holland said.

The approved budget anticipates a fund reserve of $8.1 million representing 14 percent of the district’s general fund budget.