Jackson County

Schools could cost less for Ocean Springs taxpayers

Children wait for an Ocean Springs School district bus in December 2010. The School District announced this week the tax rate will be lower in order to fund school needs in fiscal year 2017.
Children wait for an Ocean Springs School district bus in December 2010. The School District announced this week the tax rate will be lower in order to fund school needs in fiscal year 2017. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

There’s a chance that homeowners will pay less on their tax bills for schools this coming fiscal year.

The school tax rate has decreased. But if your home went up in value, scratch that. You’re likely to pay more in general.

The Ocean Springs School District budget has increased by more than $1 million over last year, but because property in the district has gone up in value by almost $27 million, the city will be able to apply a lower tax rate to get the money the schools need.

The Board of Aldermen will set the actual tax rate, or millage, for schools next week, but according to school business officials, based on the district’s request for $17.8 million this year, Ocean Springs will be able to set the tax rate 2.69 mills less than last year to cover that cost.

That means the owner of a home assessed at $180,000 in value technically would see a $48 reduction in their tax bill, but that’s only if the value of their house stayed the same as last year.

“I can’t say every house will get a reduction,” said City Clerk Shelly Ferguson.

Tax notices are going out to residences now, letting people know what the new assessed value of their home is, Ferguson said. If a home’s value goes up, the owners will pay more in taxes.

“The good news is the value of your home is more,” Ferguson said.

A mill in Ocean Springs is worth about $26,000 more than last year.

The value of a mill has gone up partly because of $16.5 million in new construction in the city and 25 new homes and businesses in the school district outside the city limits.

Mary Gill, the district manager, said last year’s school budget was $16.75 million and it took 69.49 mills to cover that cost. This year, it will take only 66.8 mills to cover the $17.8 million budget.

Highlights in the new budget include:

▪ Paying for a health clinic near Ocean Springs Hospital that will treat employees who are on the school’s health plan for free and other employees for a set co-pay.

▪ Adding six teacher positions.

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