Residents not happy about proposed tax hike - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Residents not happy about proposed tax hike

June 9, 2005

Tifton- It's been 16 years since Tifton has increased it property taxes, and over that time the city has experienced substantial growth. Now leaders say they need to increase their revenue just to keep up.

Homeowner Johnny Alexander disagrees with city leaders. He says it's not time for a tax increase.

"So many people are on fixed incomes and I think tax is high enough really," says Alexander.

The Tifton city council is considering raising the millage rate from 4.4 mills to 6.9 for the fiscal year 2006 budget. It's a recommendation city manager Charles Howell admits he was a little uneasy about.

"This year is my 40th year and this is the first property tax increase I've ever had to recommend," says Howell.

But he believes it's necessary. Howell says the city held taxes down for as long as it could, but Tifton's revenue just is no longer enough to offset the cost of providing services to residents.

"We've reached a point in time that we need to either reduce levels of service or we need to increase our millage," Howell says. "In absolute terms we're looking at about $675,000 that is needed for revenue enhancements."

While the council is expecting most of that additional income to come from a millage increase, Howell says unfortunately some of it will have to come in the form of job cuts. He says nine positions are expected to be cut at the police and public works departments.

The millage increase is not definite yet, but city officials say it will likely pass, and like it or not homeowners will have to end up paying.

"If we have to have an increase to keep things going then so be it," says Alexander.

In addition to the proposed millage increase the city manager also says the council is considering increasing fees for city services.

There will be one more public hearing about the budget just before council members vote on it. It will be held on June 20th at 5:30 PM. The special called meeting for adopting the budget will begin at 6:30 PM.

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