Local governments adopt tax millage rates for Fiscal Year 2020

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Fayette School Board sets 4.9% tax rate increase

The Fayette County Board of Education on Aug. 21 adopted a general fund millage rate of 19.25 mills and a bond millage rate of 1.271 mills. The general fund millage rate was .9 mills above the 18.75-mill rollback rate, which equated to a 4.9 percent increase or a $106.20 increase on a $300,000 home. The bond millage rate met the rollback rate.

The millage rate was adopted on a 3-1 vote, with board member Brian Anderson absent.

Board member Barry Marchman cast the opposing vote, commenting prior to the vote that this was the largest budget to date. The recently adopted budget is approximately $229 million.

“I’m wondering what student achievement metric would justify the increase of the largest budget ever,” Marchman said, adding that, in the absence of justification, it amounts to a disservice to taxpayers and employees. “And we risk future ESPLOST (Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) revenues when we don’t act in good faith for taxpayers. They might not approve the next one.”

Marchman also said the biggest thing, for him, was not being sure “we’re on a sustainable business model.”

Board member Leonard Presberg disagreed with what he said was Marchman’s “characterization that the board doesn’t act in good faith.”

“I think the people of Fayette County recognize the value of public schools paying teachers what they’re worth and small class sizes,” Presberg said. “And I think most people in Fayette support the schools and how they’re being run. I’m excited about what we’re doing.”

Just prior to the vote, Chairman Scott Hollowell said he viewed education funding as an investment. Marchman agreed and the 3-1 vote followed.

Also prior to the vote, there were three residents who made public comments on the millage. Board members were asked if areas of wasteful spending had been addressed and if a lean approach to the budget had been utilized.

A third comment came from Fayette Libertarian Party Vice Chairman Danny Dolan, who noted that though home values are increasing does not mean that he has more money to feed his children or fix up his home. Dolan asked that the board not increase residents’ real tax payments.

Hollowell after the conclusion of public comments said, “The motion is to adopt the millage rate of 9.250 for school and maintenance operations and 1.271 for the bond millage rate. Can we have a motion and a second?”

The motion and second were made, with Hollowell asking if there was any discussion. It was then that Superintendent Jody Barrow, along with other comments on the millage, clarified that the maintenance and operation millage rate requested is 19.25 mills.

Hollowell after Barrow’s comments said, “Okay,” then stated there was a motion and a second. At that point, Marchman and Presberg made their comments, followed by Hollowell calling for the vote.

Barrow on Aug. 23 was asked by The Citizen about the motion and vote for a general fund millage of 9.25 mills, even though the intent was to adopt the millage at 19.25 mills.

The question was posed to Barrow given that, intent aside, the adoption of a motion is final, with the outcome based on the approval of that motion. If the motion was stated incorrectly, the motion would need to be amended or withdrawn and a new motion presented.

Barrow spoke with school board attorney Phil Hartley, with Hartley asking if the board understood that the intent was to adopt a rate of 19.25 mills. Barrow said he indicated to Hartley that the intent was clear to the board.

Barrow also noted that the meeting minutes will reflect that he made the millage recommendation and Hollowell called for the motion.

Barrow reported that Hartley said he was not concerned about the issue and that nothing else needed to be done. — Reported by BEN NELMS

Peachtree City Council votes for small tax increase

Retains 6.232 rate but reduces total millage; tax hike of under $36 a year for $500,000 house, under $22 for home assessed at $300,000 — 

If the value of your home in Peachtree City increased in this year’s tax assessment, you will pay a little more in city property tax than you did last year.

That’s the result of a 4-to-0 City Council vote Aug. 22 in favor of adopting a millage rate to fund the city budget. The rate is the same as last year, but because your home is likely worth more this year than last, the same rate produces a tax increase — more income for the city, a higher tax bill for you.

The city’s total millage rate actually went down by a fraction of one mill, the result of a bond debt being paid off.

So here’s the city’s calculation of what effect the council action will have on owners with various home values: If your home is valued at $300,000, you’ll pay an additional $21.32 in city tax; if your home is assessed at $500,000, you’ll pay $35.53 more in city tax.

The extra money will go toward funding a maintenance and operations (M&O) budget beginning Oct. 1 of $39.3 million and another $3.27 million for capital improvement projects, for a total of $42.57 million.

The council held its required third public hearing at a 9 a.m. meeting in City Hall with an audience of two persons other than council and city staff. There were no public comments. Voting for the millage rate were Mayor Vanessa Fleisch and council members Terry Ernst, Phil Prebor and Kevin Madden. Councilman Mike King was away. — Reported by CAL BEVERLY

Fayette County votes 4-1 for small tax hike

The final public hearing on the adoption of Fayette County’s 2019 millage rate at 4.392 mills was held on Aug. 22, followed by a 4-1 adoption by commissioners.

Holding the 2019 millage at the 2018 rate. or 4.392 mills. The rollback rate would have been 4.171 mills.

Essentially a tax increase, the 2019 rate equates to a $21 increase for a home valued at $250,000.

Overall, the countywide net tax digest, the amount after exemptions, grew by 7.61 percent over last year.

Prior to the approval, there were three people having their say in public comments. One said he agreed with the increase because it supported public safety employees.

The other two asked that taxes not be increased.

Commissioner Eric Maxwell, the lone opposing vote, had previously stated that he could not vote for a tax increase.

Commissioner Chuck Oddo in his comments said, “This was the year we had to bite the bullet, primarily for the public safety personnel who protect us.”

Commissioner Edge Gibbons agreed, saying that when he took office earlier in the year he was appalled at the salary situation for public safety.

“This board is doing something about it,” Gibbons said.

Based on public safety pay issues that surfaced earlier in the year at the commission retreat, the majority of commissioner took the position that there was no option other than increasing pay, which would lead to a tax increase.

Fayette’s municipalities also addressed pay for public safety employees. — Reported by BEN NELMS