City Council votes to drop millage rate half a mil

Published 8:35 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Bainbridge City Council approved a half a mil reduction of the city millage rate for 2017 at the meeting Tuesday evening. The motion passed in a 5-1 vote with the lone dissenting vote being cast by Phil Long. He said that he was not opposed to the half a mil reduction, but voted against it because he would have liked to see a bigger decrease.

“I think our citizens need some tax relief and deserve some tax relief,” Long said. “In looking in the budget that I’ve seen, there’s some money in there we can survive on and cut a full mil.”

The city originally recommended a third of a mil reduction of the rate, which is currently 5.575. The council had the ability to reduce the rate at any amount equal or greater to a third of a mil.

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“A full mil for us is around $324,000,” City Manager Chris Hobby said. “Half a mil is around $162,000 out of a $10 million dollar budget. As always has been the case, most of our revenue comes from sources other than property taxes.”

Long and Roslyn Palmer were initially in favor of reducing the rate by a full mil in line with the promise they had made to the citizens when the Service Delivery Strategy Agreement was passed along with Decatur County.

“I would just like to see us cut at least a mil,” Palmer said. “I think it is a show to our citizens that we’ve done what we said we’d do.”

During the discussion, Glennie Bench urged the council to be cautions because they have not seen the projected savings from the agreement as of yet. She also pointed out that for the last several years they have exceeded their projected costs in the budget.

“I agree with you that we need to look for ways to lower the tax as we can, but I think we’re a year too early,” Bench said. “I would rather see that those projections come to fruition for one year. Then we can be on more solid ground to accelerate that reduction next year.”

The rate decrease was possible due to the projected savings from the service delivery agreement as well as the Recreation Authority and the new health care policy that the city passed along with the Hospital Board and the county.

Long said that his goal is for the city to move more towards a service based revenue system instead of one based on the millage rate and other more fluid sources.

“In the near future to increase the amount of sewer, water and solid waste,” Long said. “I think that if we’re going to have a shortfall of revenue every year, then we need to move toward a system that creates a more steady revenue.”

Hobby said that the ways of generating revenue will have to be discussed by the council in the coming months.

”We’re going to have to talk about other ways of revenue generation that are different than property tax,” Hobby said. “I think we’re heading in that direction of beginning to rely less and less on property tax and more on consumption type tax.”


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