Taxpayers turn out for Lee County public hearing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Taxpayers turn out for Lee County public hearing

September 19, 2005

Lee County-- Dozens of taxpayers fill the Lee County assembly room to voice concern over a decision that will affect their pockets. "The well is dry. The well has run dry," says Lee County resident Joe Adair.

Joe Adair has lived at his home in Lee County since 1987. "I'm paying more taxes now than I would if I was living in the same house in Dougherty County," says Adair. He'll pay even more if the county approves a millage rate increase but he's here to try to put a stop to it. "I hope I will. I hope I will because I've never protested anything in my life until this happened," says Adair.

The revised proposal would raise the county's millage rate from 13.95 to 15.95. That's a 14 percent increase in county taxes. School and state tax rates won't go up so the total millage rate would rise to 32.24, a 6.61 percent increase. "This will get us a balanced budget, finally a balanced budget," says county commission chair Jackie Sizemore.

County commission chair Jackie Sizemore says the increase is unavoidable. In the last two years, they've spent $2.2 million out of reserves. "We're down to $1 million. It takes about $1 million and a half to run this county for a month," says Sizemore. The county relied on reserves to balance the budget for years but say they can no longer do that.

"They'll realize that we're trying to make this county better in the future and I think we're going to be o.k," says Sizemore. Sizemore says the board worked hard to reduce the original proposal of a 20 and a half percent increase down to the current proposal of 14.

"I think any increase is bad news to anybody so I think they'll be a little bit happier about a 2 mil increase instead of 3 mil," says Sizemore. "I don't care if they get it down to half. The thing has got to stop," says Adair.

A new millage rate of 15.95 would mean that if you own a $100,000 house, your annual tax bill would go up about $80. Under the intial proposal, that bill would have increased $120. Commissioners dropped the increase by removing a US Highway 82 sewer project from the budget. It will be paid for with state money.

Commissioners will vote on the change next Thursday right after another public hearing.

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