Grayson College’s board of trustees held the first of two required public hearings on Friday in order to garner feedback on the newly proposed tax rate of 18.12 cents per $100 valuation. The new rate comes in slightly lower than last year’s rate of 18.13 cents.

Grayson College President Jeremy McMillen explained what the new rate means for taxpayers and the school’s budget.

“We are lowering the rate overall,” McMillen said. “So, if your home was worth $100,000 last year and it is worth $100,000 this year, then you will pay less money. But we will be generating more tax revenue because the county is experiencing a lot of economic prosperity.”

McMillen went on to explain that before a tax rate can be approved, the school is required to hold two public hearings. This allows residents a forum to ask questions, though no one from the public came forward to speak Friday. The second public hearing will be held on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

McMillen continued by discussing the current school projects that will benefit by the increase in revenue.

“We will be able to do a lot of really good things,” McMillen said. “We are bringing our employees in line with the market in terms of paying them. We also maintain a student success fund which allows us to do innovative things throughout the course of the year.”

McMillen said the increase in revenue through the tax rate will allow the school to hire new faculty members for both the Advanced Manufacturing Program and the Viticulture and Enology program. The college president said the additional funds will also allow the school to hire additional maintenance staff for the planned new dorm.

McMillen said the new tax rate would meet the school’s needs for the coming year.

“I think it’s a reasonable approach that the board has taken for a number of years to decrease the tax rate,” McMillen said. “From the long view, it’s very prudent. Luckily, we’re in a place where we are able to do it. We are blessed to be a college that can meet the needs and start expanding programming.”

The board of trustees is set to hold its second and final public hearing on the tax rate on Wednesday. The group will then consider the adoption of the tax rate and discuss and adopt the annual budget on Aug. 22.

McMillen said the public is welcomed to attend the next hearing and the college will use the feedback to help further tailor the tax rate.

“It is the public’s right to express their pleasure or displeasure about what the college board is doing,” McMillen said. “I think that history shows the board does a good job of managing the budget and is reasonable in measuring the decline of the tax rate over the last several years. A good turnout would allow us to share what our vision is and why it’s important.”