Lee County-- A tax rate rollback is music to the ears of Lee County taxpayers who worried higher property values would mean bigger tax bills. Tonight, the Lee County School Board approved a 1.29 millage rate reduction and Lee County commissioners lowered their tax rate by a little more than 3 mils.
For sale signs cover many streets in Lee County but at the fast rate the county is growing, homes don't stay on the market very long. The Engram family is proof. They're fairly new to Lee County.
"I like it, it's really quiet," says Scotty Engram.
Engram loves the area but like most homeowners, he isn't very fond of taxes. And like many homeowners, he was expecting a bigger bill because of the recent reassessments.
"A minor increase, not a real big increase," says Engram. But county leaders say there's good news. They've kept their word to taxpayers.
"They said months ago they would rollback the entire reassessment," says County Administrator Alan Ours. Tentatively, the millage rate is rolled back to 12.766, down from 15.95. However, Tax Commissioner Betty Johnson says some homeowners may still see an increase.
"Since we've had our reassessments this year, there's still going to be a small increase," says Johnson. It depends on the value of the home. A $100,000 home would add up to about $510 in county taxes with the new rate. However, that same home would cost $638 with the old millage.
"I'm real excited about that, think it will be a big savings," says Engram. Sounds good, but with the county's growing pains and budget problems, some would question if a rollback is a wise decision.
"Number one we recognize what those issues are and we're going to do our very best to work through those issues but it wont be an overnight fix," says Ours. County Administrator Alan Ours says it's too early to determine whether the new millage rate will bring in the required amount for the county's troubled budget.
"As the year unfolds, we may have to make budget adjustments as needed. We'll continue to monitor that," says Ours. While county leaders continue to monitor their budget, some homeowners like Scotty Engram look forward to a reduction in taxes.
"Yeah, we're just going to enjoy it right now," says Engram.
Commissioners consider it a promise kept and as the county continues to grow, they'll have plenty more people to keep their word to.
Lee County leaders should have approved a tax digest by August 1st. Since they were late, they lost about $3,000 in state commission. The new millage rate will be officially adopted in two weeks.