Sumter taxpayers say they're fed up - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sumter taxpayers say they're fed up

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

 

AMERICUS, GA (WALB) –  The threat of higher taxes has some Sumter County residents pushing county commissioners to consider consolidating with Americus.

Americus City Commissioners approved consolidation last year and the county has been the lone hold out. 

Angry county residents issued an ultimatum Thursday to consider the study and legislation or they'd find people to run for office that would.

Commissioner Rick Davis helped residents make their case, he pointed out in the last 6 years, property taxes for county residents have increased 40 percent and that's been during good economic times.  Residents say they just can't take any more.

Taxed out Sumter County residents all but got down on their knees asking commissioners to do something about the tax burden.

"Please, please help us, don't drag your feet," said Concerned businessman Larry Odom.

They say fewer than half the people in Sumter County shoulder the property tax burden, mostly senior citizens. "I understand we can't cut taxes that's a given, however we've got to do something to get things in another direction because we're headed to a bridge that's out," said Odom.

Odom hopes consolidating Sumter County and Americus governments might eventually save money. "I think the water's fixing to boil, and they don't have no choice like Commissioner Davis said they've got to do something."

County Commissioners all said they'd like to see a study done to see what savings may be possible, but they cautioned it may not be as much as residents believe.

"Without looking at the number it's very difficult to say this is how much we could save, but it goes, just reasonably you would save money because you would not duplicate so many things," said Sumter County Commission Chairman Brent Williams.

A unified government however could implement an additional one percent sales tax, generating four million dollars for the county.

"Governments that are split like our we don't have that option so for those who say lets pass more sales tax if we were a unified government we might be able to do that," said Sumter County Commissioner Rick Davis.

Citizens may get their answer Tuesday night when commissioner are set to vote on the issue.

The problem is the clock is ticking. They're only 15 days until the legislature hits crossover day, where the legislation would need to move forward if Sumter County wants to get the ball rolling before next year.

Some commissioner have suggested doing the study before going forward with the legislation.  Some pointed out that could put them in the same places as Albany and Dougherty County, where the issues never been brought to a vote. 

Seven Georgia Counties have consolidated, city-county governments.


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