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County sets tentative millage rate at 13.65 mills

A 2.5 percent drop in the taxable value of the county combined with a projected $200,000 drop in sales taxes due to agricultural exemptions along with lower beer tax collections and insurance premium tax proceeds, Grady County commissioners are looking to up the millage rate to balance the county’s 2014 operating budget.
This is the fifth straight year of negative growth and the net tax digest has dropped 15 percent since 2008.
Last year, one mill of tax would generate $513,665 in revenues, but in 2013, one mill of tax will only generate $500,741.
To make up for the loss in ad valorem taxes and other revenues, the county commissioners have cut out budget items requested by constitutional officers and county department heads, but a slight tax increase may be necessary.
Commissioners have been meeting over the last several weeks with County Administrator Carlos Tobar to finalize the budget.
In proposals presented this week, Tobar presented a budget scenario that includes a three percent wage improvement for county workers and one that does not. He also presented the financial impact of a “break-even” millage rate of 13.25 mills versus a rate of 13.65 that would result in a budgeted surplus of $288,203.
The annual financial impact of a three percent raise would be $135,004.
In order for Tax Commissioner Phyllis Gainous to present the tax digest to the Georgia Department of Revenue on time, the board this week voted to set a tentative millage rate.
“We need to understand that what we are doing today is approving a tentative millage rate. We can’t go higher than what we set today, but we can drop it before we vote for final adoption,” Commissioner Elwyn Childs said Tuesday.
Vice Chairman T.D. David offered a motion to set the tentative rate at 13.65 mills, but there was no decision regarding funding the raise for county employees. That decision will be made later in the process of finalizing the budget.
Commissioner Charles Norton seconded the motion and it was passed unanimously.
The current millage rate is 11.89 and, based on the reduced county tax digest, it would take a rate of 12.134 mills to generate the same tax revenue as 11.89 mills did last year.
In accordance with Georgia law, the board of commissioners will be required to hold three public hearings on the proposed tax increase.
The first of the public hearings will be held on Thursday, July 18, at 8 a.m. at the courthouse.
Based on a 13.65 millage rate, the county is projecting to collect $5,897,598 in ad valorem taxes to fund, in large part, the overall projected budget of $11,524,345.

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