City seeking millage increase

Published 8:26 pm Friday, July 23, 2010

The City of Bainbridge is seeking to increase its millage rate, a variable that helps determine how much ad valorem tax is owed on a property, and will make a final decision at the City Council’s August 3 meeting.

The City Council held two public hearings on the proposed increase on Tuesday, July 20. Only two people showed up at a 2 p.m. hearing and no one spoke at a hearing held during the council’s regular 6:30 p.m. meeting. A final hearing will be held at the council’s regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on August 3.

City Manager Chris Hobby had suggested as early as Fall 2009 that a millage increase might be needed in order to fund the budget of the city’s current fiscal year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 31, 2010. Under the way the city government operates, the money collected from the millage increase will actually be counted as revenue under the current year’s budget, Hobby told The Post-Searchlight.

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“When we drew up the budget last fall, we had anticipated sales tax collections to be about eight percent less than the previous year,” Hobby said. “Unfortunately, sales tax collection has been even lower than we thought—down about 10-11 percent—and has only recently shown signs of stabilizing.”

Behind the numbers

Under Georgia law, the city is required to advertise that the new millage rate would represent an increase of 15 percent on the city’s collection of ad valorem taxes. However, Hobby said he personally believed the increase is not as drastic as it sounds, given the city’s relatively small millage rate when compared to those of Decatur County and the Board of Education.

About 40 percent of the city’s general fund budget comes from sales tax receipts, more than twice what is collected through property taxes, according to Hobby.

The proposed increase would put the city’s millage rate at 3.57, which is a 0.5 mill increase. If the Council approves the increase, the owner of a house valued at $200,000 would pay approximately $40 more per year.

According to the Board of Tax Assessor’s Web site,, estimated taxes of $1,918.02 are assessed annually a $200,000 house, with a standard homestead exemption applied.

Hobby said the median property value in Bainbridge is $140,000—about $28 more per year would be assessed on a property with that value.

Estimated taxes of $1,327.86 are assessed annually a $140,000 house, with a homestead exemption applied.

Ad valorem tax is levied on the assessed value of the property which, by law, is established at 40 percent of its fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate) levied by government entities. One mill is equal to $1.00 for each $1,000 of assessed value, or .001.

Other business

In other business conducted at its Tuesday, July 20 meeting, the Bainbridge City Council:

 Approved, by a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Phil Long voting no, a contract with the City of Pelham, Ga., for housing of Bainbridge Public Safety inmates at the Pelham City Jail, effective July 21. A more detailed report on the contract can be found in the City Council article published in the July 21 issue of The Post-Searchlight.

 Held a public hearing on an update to the city’s comprehensive plan. City Planner Dustin Dowdy said the final draft of the update, including a proposed new future land use map, was ready to transmit to the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission and Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The update has to be reviewed and approved by state officials by Oct. 15. The final draft is available for viewing on the city’s Web site,, or at City Hall.

 Held a first public hearing on proposed amendments to the city’s animal control ordinance. The amendments would prohibit the tethering of animals to fixed objects, with only two exceptions. Dogs could be attached to a running line or pulley system as long as a choke or pinch collar was not used. Temporary chaining or tethering of animals would be permitted only while the animals’ caretakers were engaged in an outdoor task not to exceed one hour.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, a request from Steven Lee to assign a zoning of SR-3 (Suburban Residential) to his property on Toole Dairy Road, which was recently annexed into city limits.

 Heard a presentation by Public Safety Director Larry Funderburke and other leading BPS officers about the agency’s work during the past 12 months.

Bids and Bills

By a unanimous vote, the council approved the following bids and bills:

Bills: $31,093.88 from Oxford Construction of Albany, Ga., for 476.90 tons of asphalt for paving associated with new boat ramps in Boat Basin; and $44,344.80 from Decatur County Board of Commissioners for inmate and landfill charges for June.

Bids: $5,953.50 from Bell Supply of Dothan, Ala., for six fire hydrants; $3,829.80 from Southern Computer Warehouse of Marietta, Ga., for 15 digital cameras; $5,421 from Cisco Eagle of Dallas, Texas, for two holding cells to temporarily accommodate city inmates at Public Safety headquarters; $5,605 from CMI of Owensboro, Ky., for Intoxilyzer 5000 EN to conduct Blood Alcohol Content testing at Public Safety; $312,000 from MariCorp US of Shell Knob, Mo., for delivery and installation of three double-lane boat ramps at the Boat Basin.