Next year property owners in the Union County School District (UCSD) will pay about $240,000 more in property taxes than in the current year. This is a four percent increase over this year’s ad valorem tax collections for public education in Union County schools.
The Union County School Board of Trustees informed the Union County Board of Supervisors last month that the increase would be needed to operate the county district’s four K-12 campuses. By law, the county supervisors have no choice but to grant increases of up to four percent annually when requested by the school district trustees. The county school system did not ask for a tax increase last year.
The Union County supervisors formally started the process of granting the increase at their meeting Monday morning, July 5th. Actual implementation of the increase will involve an examination of the new property tax evaluations and then setting a millage rate to generate the sum of money required.
The Union County School District, while consistently achieving some of the best test scores in the state, spends substantially less per student than the Mississippi average. The average state expenditure per pupil is $9,394. The per pupil expenditure in the Union County district is $8,223.
The increase in the property tax burden on local tax payers is the direct result of underfunding of Mississippi education by the state legislature.
State law since 1997 has required minimum state funding per student according to a formula known as the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). By the MAEP formula, the state legislature underfunded Union County schools by over a million dollars this year. The legislature and governor have underfunded UCSD schools during the last nine fiscal years by more than $11-million.
The rest of the Union County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday morning was an agenda of routine house-keeping: paying the bills, approving last month’s minutes, approval of routine fees and per diem claims, and approving the hiring of one new full-time employee in the road department and a part-time employee at the county jail.
Before we posted this article on NAnewsweb.com, State Representative Margaret Rogers and State Senator Nicky Browning were each provided with copies and asked for comments or corrections as to facts. Neither had responded when we posted the article to the website. We will let you know if either of them deigns to respond.
Rogers, Browning and other elected officials owe no more response or courtesy to a news organization than they owe to any citizen they are paid to represent in the offices of public trust, which they occupy.
For other local funding problems created by the state government: With transparency in politics: still not “a dime’s worth of difference”