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City to look into changing revenue system for FY2017

As the City of Bainbridge prepares to approve its budget for the 2017 fiscal year, city manager Chris Hobby is working on a revenue system that will help the city to rebuild its reserves, while also funding capital projects throughout the city.

The idea is to move the city from a system where revenue is dependent on sales and property taxes to one where it is based mostly on service-based fees.

The issue with using a tax-based system is that revenue can vary greatly from year to year and that property taxes place a heavier burden on only the residents that own property.

“It’s not stable, it’s all over the place,” Hobby said.

The City Council approved a half-mil decrease in the property tax at its last meeting. Hobby said that is expected to be the first in a series of millage rate cuts.

“The most unpopular tax that exists is the property tax. That is just the most unpopular tax,” Hobby said.

In order to fund capital needs projects such as cars for Bainbridge Public Safety and road improvements throughout the city, Hobby has started looking at alternative revenue systems that are more stable. One part will be to work with the county to pass a T-SPLOST that will fund road improvements in both the city and the county. Expectations are that over five years a 1-cent T-SPLOST could raise $7,500,000 for just the city to invest in roads.

“With that we can do a whole lot of storm water improvements and resurfacing improvements,” Hobby said.

The other part is a proposal to raise both the base fee and per $1,000 gallon fee on water and sewer bills. Currently, the residents of Bainbridge pay the lowest average annual water/sewer fee in the region. By raising the base fee and per $1,000 gallon fee more in line with municipalities in the region, the city will be able to fund the capital needs that they have been putting off in recent years.

This is the first in a series on the proposed changes to revenue collection for the City of Bainbridge. Check back on Saturday for a detailed breakdown of the proposed changes to the water and sewage fees.

 

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