Decatur County Board of Commissioners hold two public hearings on millage rate increase

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners held two public hearings Tuesday for county residents to voice their opinions and suggestions on the proposed millage rate increase of around four mils.

A chief concern for the millage rate raise is 2 mils going to the hospital and 1.5 mils going toward the Bainbridge-Decatur County Recreation Authority.

County resident Tommie Reynolds said he was all for recreation for kids, but was confused why there was an emphasis on The Bill Reynolds Sports Complex and the Pines Golf Course when there are unpaved roads in the southern part of the county that are dangerous to drive on.

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“Recreation is great for our kids, and they need the exercise,” Reynolds said. “But it seems like there is more concern for recreation. Kids, they need a place, and I’m all for it. I can see now that there is more emphasis on recreation than there is on people who need to get to work or get to the hospital or get to a shopping center.”

Decatur County Commission Chairman Dennis Brinson said they hoped to climb to a point financially where capital improvements like paving roads will be an option in the next few years.

Bainbridge resident Ray Harrell argued that the county needed to manage their money like he manages his own budget, and also explore any other possible options to not raise the millage rate.

“I’m on fixed income,” Harrell said. “My purchasing power is reduced annually because of increased price. What do I do about that? I spend less. I have no choice. That’s the difference in me and you folks.  If you need more money, you add taxes. I have to live based on what I receive.”

Climax resident and former county administrator Gary Breedlove said it was extravagant and overdone to raise the millage rate across the board, and referred to his disagreements with the Board of Commissioners during the mediation sessions with the City of Bainbridge in March.

“In my opinion, which is my opinion and I’m entitled to it, you have done us a disservice, and you’re doing us a disservice now by griping about something that you were a part of,” Commissioner Butch Mosely said to Breedlove.

Commissioner Pete Stephens said the only way to decrease taxes was to bring new industry to Decatur County. To attract new industry, a quality hospital, recreation options and a

strong education system were key. Raising taxes to put money into those three areas will decrease the millage rate in the long run, he said.

“It takes money to solve issues,” Commissioner Pete Stephens said. “Has the budget been wasted in the past? You best believe it. But this board will not see waste.”

Commissioner Russell Smith said he has always been opposed to millage rate increases, but he agreed with this one because it was the right thing to do.

A third and final public hearing for the proposed millage rate increase will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22, before the regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners meeting at 7 p.m.