County Board of Commissioners rolled back the county millage
slightly after the final hearing last Wednesday, which
included nearly four hours of discussions that involved
commissioners, county department heads and citizens.
millage was changed from 14.497 to 14.298, which according
to this year’s property assessments means tax bills will be
slightly higher than last year.
to approve the new millage was 4-2, with Chairman Tommy
Smith and District III Commissioner Gary Barham voting in
opposition. Both said they were against any increase in
property taxes, although both voted in favor of the $127.4
million budget in June.
the tax bills the same would have required a rollback to
manager Jim Walker pointed out in his presentation just
before the vote that, according to the FY2015 budget the
commissioners recently adopted, a rollback to 12.995 would
have created a $6 million shortfall, while keeping the
millage the same as last year would bring in $1.1 million
above what is needed for the budget.
recommended that the $1.1 million be returned to the
taxpayers and that the county “preserve the sound financial
practice” of keeping a fund balance equal to 25 percent of
the total budget, or three months’ expenses.
with the expected revenue numbers from property assessments,
the fund balance would be $32.28 million, which is $430,000
more than what is needed. Walker suggested taking $275,000
of that to complete the necessary funding for the library
system for the coming years, and the remaining $155,000
would be applied to the budget shortfall.
of $71.99 million in property tax revenue is needed to
balance the new budget, and at 12.995 mills the tax digest
would produce only $66 million, Walker said, while 14.497
mills would add up to $73.1 million.
advised the commissioners that next year there will be a new
fire station built with SPLOST funds that will require
staffing from the general fund, and he expects library
funding needs to increase as well as employee health care
of this, the budget will increase next year even if there
are no salary increases, no new vehicle purchases, he added.
II Commissioner Brian Preston moved to approve Walker’s
recommendations for the new millage and District V
Commissioner Bruce Holmes seconded.
referred a couple of times to the motion for a “tax
increase” and Holmes corrected him, saying the vote was for
a “millage rollback.”
“It’s still a tax
increase,” Smith replied. “No matter how you spin it, it’s a