Worthy consideration

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Talk of tax hikes are somewhat sore subjects.

Just as in the case of the Decatur County Board of Education, when it took four votes on a motion for its proposed millage property tax hike.

The proposed millage hike also reflects a necessary measure.

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The Board of Education has been relatively good stewards of tax dollars, and the proposed property tax hike of one mill is strictly for the operations of the Decatur County schools and not for the construction of the new Bainbridge High School or other capital projects.

More than 88 percent of the school system’s budget is earmarked for salaries and benefits. So far this year, the system is 30 positions under its normal level.

Also take into consideration that one month’s payroll equals $3.5 million, which is equal to the system’s current reserve fund.

There’s just not much wiggle room there.

The BOE proposed increasing its mills from 11.71 to 12.71, which would equate to $30 a year for property with an appraised valued of $80,000.

This proposed hike is the first one since 2003, when the millage went from 11.69 to 13.50. However, in the years since then, the millage has steadily dropped to its current level of 11.71. When the economic picture grows brighter and the board can build its reserve funds back up, the BOE has a record of lowering its millage rate.

Another point brought out in the discussions of a proposed millage increase was that Decatur County is the lowest as far as its tax rate—154th out of 165 school systems in the state.

The average millage rate for school districts is 15.39. Decatur’s current rate of 11.71 is the second lowest in Southwest Georgia; Seminole County’s is the lowest at 11.51.

Climbing the millage rate to 12.71 would move Decatur County up only one spot, above Thomas County’s 12.25 millage rate.

The school board has made a good case for increasing the millage, and it is evident that services would be cut if the millage is not increased.

Any day

Gov. Sonny Perdue is making himself available for 40 days between Aug. 12 and Nov. 5 to resume water negotiations among the governors of Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

“Judge Magnuson’s insistence on a congressional solution was specifically related to authority for Lanier and did not address the allocation of water in the basins between the three states. I have always believed that a negotiated settlement that protects the rights and resources of all three states is the most lasting solution,” Perdue said in his letter to Govs. Bob Riley of Alabama and Charles Crist of Florida.

Funny how politicians’ tones change when their backs are to the wall.

Perdue is also proclaiming to appeal the last month’s ruling so Georgia—which the governor more specially means the Atlanta metro area—can get a more favorable ruling.

As far as we’re concerned, Crist and Riley can tell Perdue to go float his boat somewhere else, and don’t spend another Georgia penny on buying justice.