Commissioners propose millage rate increase

Published 7:39 pm Monday, June 6, 2011

Citing continued poor economic conditions, Decatur County commissioners informally agreed to consider increasing its millage rate for the first time since the 1990s.

The millage rate is a financial variable that, when plugged into an equation with the county’s property tax digest, determines the rate of property taxes to be paid during local governments’ next fiscal year.

At a budget workshop meeting held early Monday evening, commissioners agreed by consensus to a three-part plan that will lead to a millage rate increase for the county government; the County Board of Education and the City of Bainbridge each set their own rate.

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The three-part plan, developed by commissioners’ three-member Finance Committee, consists of the following:

• Assign fixed millage rates to the Memorial Hospital Authority and the Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority; and remove those entities from the annual county budget. The separated taxes would be collected by the Tax Commissioner; the Hospital Authority would continue to receive money equal to 0.5 mills while the Development Authority would continue to get 0.25 mills.

• The county would raise its millage rate, currently at 8.56, by at least 0.8 mills to cover an estimated budget shortfall of $1.1 million next year. Without a tax increase, the shortfall would have still existed even after $1.26 million in budget cuts. County officials also expect fuel and non-optional insurance premium rates to increase next year’s budget by $400,000.

• The first two parts of the plan would raise the county’s millage rate by 0.8 mills over the previous rate, to 9.36 mills. However, on Monday, county commissioners also proposed a modest Cost of Living Adjustment for county employees that would increase the millage rate a bit more. Notwithstanding the COLA raises, the millage rate would leave only about $3,000 in extra revenue left over at the end of the year.

Commissioners expressed regret that they were unable to avoid a tax increase.

“I knew this day was coming; I just didn’t know when … it was inevitable that we would have to deal with this,” said Commission Chairman Butch Mosely.

Budget meeting schedule

The County Finance Committee will meet at the County Administration Building at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8 to review the proposed budget further.

All six commissioners will hold a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed budget on Wednesday, June 8, at 6 p.m.

Commissioners will hold a special called meeting to consider the adoption of the 2011-2012 budget on Wednesday, June 15, at 6 p.m.

Commissioners’ next regular meeting will take place Tuesday, June 14, at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Building.

Budget Documents

Electronic version of proposed Fiscal Year 2011/2012 budget (1.3 MB PDF)

Budget – 2012 Press Release (PDF)

County Finance Committee Comments (PDF)