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County hikes millage rate

Thursday morning during a special called meeting, the Grady County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the 2012 operating budget and increased the millage rate to 11.77 from 10.50.
The total operating budget approved, including Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is $13,383,346.
By increasing the millage rate by 1.27 mills, the county will collect $128,652 more in tax revenues than in 2010.
Commissioner Al Ball said he based his decision to support the millage rate hike on discussions he had had with County Administrator Rusty Moye.
“If I understand it correctly, on an across the board average, the taxpayers will be paying less,” Ball said.
Moye pointed out that would not be true for all, but if averaged across the board the average taxpayer would pay less.
Chairman Charles Norton, who had voiced support for a one mill hike, said that larger property owners and business owners will be paying the higher taxes.
Vice Chairman Elwyn Childs, who made the motion to increase the millage, said the county’s financial situation next year could be even more challenging.
“Next year may be the real problem,” Childs said.
Chairman Norton also noted that commissioners had not increased millage in the last four years.
Although the millage rate has remained constant since 2008, the county has collected increased tax revenues of $467,382 over that period.
Commissioner Billy Poitevint said, “A company, individual, county, state or country that spends more than it takes in is in trouble.” The Dist. 2 commissioner said he was hesitant to increase taxes when local taxpayers are dealing with “high groceries, high gasoline and, in some cases, no job, but we’ve got to be able to operate the county.”
County Administrator Moye pointed out that the budget as presented requires $258,862 to be transferred from cash reserves in order to balance the budget.
The county is also dipping into its reserves to pay $586,618 in debt service on the Tired Creek lake bonds next year.
Prior to voting on the budget, Commissioner Ball asked if the board could amend the budget at any time during the course of 2012 , and Moye indicated they could.
Commissioner Poitevint also asked if the approximately 90 taxpayers who have appealed their reevaluations would impact the projected revenues used in the budget calculations. Moye said the amount of taxable property in appeals would not be significant enough to cause a significant revenue shortfall.
For the first time in many years, the vote to approve the millage rate and the budget was unanimous.

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