School district millage to increase

Daily Times Leader

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday during their meeting to increase the millage rate for the West Point Consolidated School District.

Ward 4 Selectman Keith McBrayer was absent from the meeting.

This increase will be the second consecutive millage increase for the school district, and of the three, the increase for the fiscal year 2019-2020 is the largest of the two.

Between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the millage for the school district's operation budget was increased from 52.75 to 53, while the rate for the school's debt services was reduced from 2.6 to 2.5.

This year, the millage rate for debt services remains the same while the operations' rate will jump from 53 to 54 mils.

Combining operations and debt services, the school district's millage rate will move from 55.5 to 56.5 mils.

Selectmen also voted for the city's millage rate to remain the same at 29.4 mils during Tuesday's meeting.

The 54 mils approved by Selectmen is needed to cover the $7.6 million operations request from the West Point Consolidated School District, while the additional 2.5 mils in the school district's millage rate will cover the $313,400 needed for debt services.

West Point schools have been steadily growing in value with the millage increases, moving from a net assessed value of $132.7 million in fiscal year 2017-2018 to a projected value of $139.5 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

Meanwhile, without a millage increase, the city of West Point has also appreciated in value, from $77.8 million in fiscal year 2017-2018 to an estimated value of $83.4 million in 2020.

In tax revenues, the city's 29.4 millage rate will generate roughly $2.4 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Selectman William Binder said the meeting was a good, noting it was "short and sweet."

"Everything went well," Binder said of the millage increase.

Ward 5 Selectman Jasper Pittman, who voted against the school district millage increase last year, said this year's plan for the added revenue was more appropriate, noting that much of last year's millage increase was planned for salary increases.

"The only time I have a problem with millage is when it goes toward salary," Pittman said.

While Pittman said he was certainly in favor of raising teachers' and administrators' salaries, he said raising taxes was not the way to do it.

Going forward, Pittman said if future millage increases were geared toward salaries again, he would fight them.

Mayor Robbie Robinson said he was glad the matter was settled and was prepared to move forward with other plans.

While he acknowledged he could not speak for the school district, he said he was confident the millage rate would remain the same next year, noting the operations rate was only one mil away from the legal limit of 55.

Beyond that, Robinson said he was glad the budget did not demand taxes go up any higher.