|News from Banks County...||
JUNE 2, 2004
Tax assessment notices to be sent out
Memorial Day service held in Homer
Banks County honors fallen soldiers
In an honored tradition, veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and their families gathered to memorialize those who did not come marching home. The annual Memorial Day service was held on a rainy Monday morning in Homer.
Memorial Day is to pay respects to those whose trips home were in flag-draped wooden coffins.
Homer American Legion president Bobby Eubanks said: No matter what war we were in, we all shared the specter of death and mutilation of fellow soldiers, no matter the continent or circumstances. Without the unselfishness, the commitment, the dedication and the service of these great men and women, we may not be here today.
The Rev. Jim McClendon offered thanks to those who left their farms and factories, their homes and families, to preserve freedom.
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson remembered the most handsome picture she has of her father was when he was in uniform.
How could it have taken 60 years to get a memorial to honor these men and women who served in World War II?, she asked. I watched the dedication on television, but I cannot imagine how it must have felt for those veterans to see the nations beautiful tribute to them.
Sixty years ago, 5,000 men died on a beach in France for freedom. It bothers me that today we tend to take our freedom for granted. We should fall on our knees in thanks for the grace that has been given us to have been born Americans. It should be the first prayer on lips at the start of every day.
Right now, there are 800,000 men and women serving in the armed forces across the world. To them, we should offer our heartfelt thanks. Some of those 800,000 are in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Some of them will not be coming home. We must remember that freedom is not free. It carries a price. A high price. We need to acknowledge the sacrifice these men and women have made and continue to make.
In our hearts, every day we should take a moment to realize what freedom means. We should take time in our busy lives to give thanks that we were born here.
I leave you with this, remember 365 days a year that there were some who came back less than whole, and some who did not make it home at all in the hope that we would live in freedom forever.
Tax rates going up for county, schools
BOE plans 12% hike in millage rate for schools
The Banks County Board of Education is planning a 12 percent hike in the county school millage rate this year. In a called meeting last Thursday, the BOE set a tentative rate of 13.75 mills, up 1.5 mills from the year before. Officials said that equates to about $60 per $100,000 in property value.
The final tax rate will be set in a called BOE meeting scheduled for June 21 at 7 p.m. in the BOE office.
The vote last week to increase the tax rate was split, with Neal Brown, Ron Gardiner and Johnny Williams voting for the 1.5 mill hike and Bo Garrison and Ben Ramsey voting for a smaller .75 mills increase.
Im young, I can get out and work, but there are several people in this county on a fixed income and thats who Im worried about, Garrison said.
The tax increase will net the school system an additional $654,700 over the year before, a net increase of 13.5 percent.
The last raise in the millage rate took place in 1998, when the millage rate jumped from 10.4 mills to 12.4 mills. Since then, the BOE has been lowering the rate each year.
Cuts in state funding were at the center of the decision to up the millage rate. Mike Beasley, financial director for the Banks County School System, provided figures for the board members to review, including local cost per student figures provided by the state education department.
According to Beasley, one student costs local taxpayers $1,985 per year. At the old millage rate, 12.25 mills, it would take a piece of property valued at $405,102 to support one student for one year. The school system currently serves around 2,500 students.
The governor also approved a two percent salary increase for teachers this year. Currently, 87 percent of the total school budget is used to pay salaries.
I think it will cost us more to have school this year than it did last year, Erwin said. And it is hard to absorb the (state) austerity reductions.
Those austerity reductions totaled $549,500 for the 2005 school year. Since the reductions began in 2003, Banks County schools have lost $1.2 million in state funding. Erwin suggested the board raise the millage rate to off-set the austerity reductions.
We can make a prediction about what it will cost, he said. Its going to cost more, how much more? I dont know, we will receive less from our government.
Gardiner asked Erwin for a recommendation. Erwin suggested the board raise the millage rate a minimum of one mill and a maximum of 1.5 mills.
It gets to a point where you will have to cut things out and Im not willing to cut anything out, Gardiner said.
Student population increases, a proposed alternative school, salary increases and a new middle school opening were among the increases suggested for next year.
We cant sit here and think of what all the increases will be, Brown said. We cant continue services at that rate.
Alto to meet June 8
BOC looking at 4% hike
Hammers Glen annexation, rezoning approved by planners