Columbia County school board members Regina Buccafusco and Mildred Blackburn agreed at a tax digest hearing Monday to keep the millage at 17.09 for 2008-09.
Members Wayne Bridges, Mike Sleeper and Roxanne Whitaker were absent. Without a quorum, no action by the board members is official.
County officials expect the tax digest to increase by 7.59 percent, said Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway, and keeping the millage at the same as last year will leave the school system with a $71,000 shortfall in its $176 million budget.
Half of the increase in the tax digest was attributed to growth, and reassessments accounted for 44 percent of the increase, Carraway said.
Budget highlights include a 2.5 percent increase for non-administrative employees, 30 new teaching positions, six additional bus drivers, $375,000 in startup costs for the new Stallings Island Middle School, a $300,000 increase for utilities, a $350,000 increase for fuel and $918,000 to purchase math and science textbooks.
The board initially based its budget on a 6 percent increase in the tax digest, which would have left the school system with a deficit of more than $1 million.
School officials have said they can offset the shortfall with the system's fund balance and reserves.
A second hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 a.m., and the board will set the millage at its regular meeting that night.
Both meetings will be held at the Board of Education central office, 4781 Hereford Farm Road, Evans.
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