City adopts millage increase

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bainbridge City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday night to increase its millage rate by half a mill, which will result in a property tax increase.

The millage increase, from 3.071 to 3.57, will generate approximately $170,000 for the city’s 2009-2010 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 31.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer, who was joined by Councilman Phil Long in voting against the millage increase, said she didn’t believe economic conditions were right to pass on a property tax increase to citizens. She said she had heard from citizens of “all ages, all areas of town and all income levels” who were opposed to it due to cost-of-living concerns.

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Educator John McRae spoke against the increase, citing the number of Bainbridge citizens living in poverty and the increased number of home foreclosures.

Retiree Evelyn Hutchens said the property tax increase would not be fair to senior citizens and others on a fixed income.

Retiree Ted Snell said he opposed the increase.

Mayor Edward Reynolds and Councilman Luther Conyers were of the opinion that the city could no longer afford to pull from its dwindling reserve fund to meet budget needs.

City Manager Chris Hobby said the city’s general fund reserves are at about $1.2 million, after it had to use about $950,000 to balance last year’s budget in the face of free-falling sales tax collection. Local Option Sales Tax generates about 40 percent of the city’s approximately $9 million general fund budget, according to Hobby.

The city’s millage increase would add about $28 more per year to a tax bill for a property worth $140,000—the median property value in Bainbridge.

This summer, Decatur County voted to keep its millage rate at 8.56.

In July, the Board of Education voted to adopt a rollback millage rate of 12.99. The fiscal year 2010 millage rate assessed by the school system was 12.71. The school board’s increase would add $10.64 to a tax bill for a home valued at $100,000.