Haralson County commissioners last week held the first public hearings on their proposal to raise the county millage rate by one full mill, but if the reactions by citizens attending the meetings are any indicator, the board has found little public support of their plan.
On Aug. 1, the commissioners held two consecutive public hearings on the proposal, which Chairman Allen Poole says is necessary to maintain the current level of county services. A third public hearing is scheduled for tonight, which will immediately be followed by a meeting at which the commissioners will vote on the millage increase.
Commissioners have said that any hike in county property taxes will carry an exemption for senior citizens with a fixed income of $10,000 or less.
Poole told those attending last week’s meetings that the county is “at a crossroads,” so that it must now either raise taxes or start cutting some services that “we’ve become accustomed to.”
At both meetings, Poole outlined how the county had come to such a crossroads after eight years of holding millage rates the same, while increasing the county budget only slightly in that time. The current budget, approved in July, is set at $12.3 million, with all county departments funded at approximately the same levels as in previous years.
Poole said that during the process of hammering out the budget, the county sought in vain for any fat to trim in departments that were all facing rising external costs over which they had no control, such as fuel, insurance and utilities – not to mention mandates by federal and state agencies.
Chief Tax Appraiser Hubert Sparks has said at previous hearings that raising property taxes by 1 millage point will yield the county an estimated $750,000 in extra revenues. (Former Tax Appraiser Sandra Tant retired effective Aug. 1).
Tax officials have said owners of a $100,000 house could expect to pay an additional $40 per year in property taxes, as the new millage would be valued at $20 per one-half mill.