County votes for 1.75 millage rate increase, again

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In a repeat of the vote taken at a previous meeting in July, the Decatur County Board of Commissioners decided to increase the millage rate by 1.75 mills Tuesday night at a specially called meeting. The county voted down a motion to merge the city and county wastewater treatment facilities.

The county’s millage assessment will be 11.66 total mills. Of those, 11.16 mills would be allocated for general purposes and .25 mills allocated to the Bainbridge and Decatur County Industrial Development Authority. The final .25 mills will be earmarked to service debt resulting from a $3.1 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Financing Authority for renovation of the county’s wastewater treatment facility.

The second vote was required, as were the three public hearings, because the advertisements informing the public of the rate increase that ran in The Post-Searchlight in July were not the required size as mandated by state law.

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It took three votes by the commission, with the first two ending in 3-3 deadlock, before the increase was approved.

Commissioner Butch Mosely made the first motion of the night to set the millage rate at 10.81, which would have been an increase of 1.4 mills. Commissioner Jan Godwin seconded that motion. Mosely, Godwin, and Frank Loeffler voted yes, while Chairman Russell Smith, Dennis Brinson, and Oliver Sellers voted no. With no tie-breaking mechanism, the motion did not pass.

Brinson made the second motion of setting the rate at 11.66 mills, a 1.75 mill increase, and the same as was passed at last month’s meeting. Loeffler seconded the motion. Mosely, Brinson, and Loeffler voted yes, while Godwin, Smith, and Sellers voted no. Again, a tie vote results in no action.

“We are beginning to look dumb,” Mosely said in reaction to the numerous votes.

After some mumbled discussion among the commissioners, the vote was taken again and, this time, passed with a 4-2 vote. Brinson, Loeffler, Sellers, and Mosely voting yes with Smith and Godwin voting no.

The county also voted to not accept the City of Bainbridge’s offer to merge the city’s and the county’s wastewater treatment facilities.

Brinson made the motion “that we express thanks to the city, but let them know that we are not interested at this time.” Godwin was the only lone vote and the motion passed 5-1.

“I wanted to make a motion that let the city know that we are willing to negotiate and study it a little further. We don’t have enough information right now, I don’t think, to make a sound decision,” Godwin said.