Lee citizens may see higher taxes - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee citizens may see higher taxes

June 6, 2005

Lee County-- Nowadays, you can't hear the name Lee County without hearing growth. Because of that, county commissioners are faced with a dilemma; increase taxes or decrease services. Either answer will affect residents.

Lee County is one of the 50 fastest growing counties in the country and many residents are glad to call it home. "I've lived here all my life but just in this home for nine months," says Lee County resident Ann Tomlinson. And with the fast rate of people buying homes in the area, county officials are having to keep up.

"Well its just the growth. We're gaining 1,500 people a year and in order to keep the services up, we're trying to figure out how we can keep those services available," says County Chairman Jackie Sizemore. But keeping those services available may become an extra cost for property owners. "What we're discussing right now is a possible tax increase of 3 mill," says Sizemore.

Currently, the combined county and school board millage rate in Lee County is about 30.24. For a home worth $100,000, the tax rate would be about $1200. The proposed increase would increase that bill by almost $120. "Too much, I feel it's too much, but everybody always feels like their taxes are too much," says Lee County resident Alex Trammell.

In a public hearing, county commissioners are discussing all their options. In the past, they've used reserve funds to pay expenses. That money is diminishing and they have to take a serious look at the budget.

"The budget committee has worked tirelessly on this and they've done a good job and they've got it cut down to as low as they can and we really don't see any more options," says Sizemore.

The main option would be to raise those taxes. "Yeah, you'll feel it in your pocket if there's a tax increase, definitely," says Trammell.

Either that or reduction in services but commissioners stress that a raise in taxes will maintain the level of services in Lee County. "None of us wants to pay higher taxes but if it gets us better services, I'd be thankful for that," says Tomlinson.

That's the balance that officials are hoping to achieve soon in the county. If the increase is approved, the goal would be to roll back those taxes for residents when re-evaluation hits.

A final decision will be made at the next meeting on June 20th.

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