Tax hike in store for Moultrie - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tax hike in store for Moultrie

September 5, 2006

Albany---A plan for a drastic property tax increase has many homeowners in Moultrie furious. The City proposed a 75-percent increase in the millage rate.  After complaints poured into the city manager's office, city leaders changed their tune, but they still expect a 37 percent hike.  

Moultrie homeowners packed into City Hall, many not too happy with the tax hike. "They don't need to be up there if they can't do better than this.  If Moultrie decides it can do this to citizens, then a good many of us can put Moultrie down," says one citizen.

Many fear a hike in property taxes will drive people out of the city. "If things become so high that you can't afford the taxes in the city, then you're going to see people have to move," says another citizen.

Retired, Roger Osborne, is already living on a fixed income. Even a thirty seven percent tax hike is still too much.

"It's making it impossible for people like me to maintain a home in the city of Moultrie," says Roger Osborne.

"The cost of government goes up just like everything else," says City Manager, Robert Hopkins.

Moultrie is booming with economic growth, city manager Robert Hopkins says that growth is not generating the necessary revenue to run the city.

"We don't receive any sales tax to support the general funds operation. Most other cities in Georgia do. All this growth and all this activity that's generating sales tax doesn't generate money that flows to the city," says Hopkins.

That's why he says an increase in the millage rate is needed. "The city has traditionally, historically has had a fiscal policy relied on utility transfer from reserve funds to supplement the income for the general funds," says Hopkins.

The city's trying to lighten the burden of transfers. A new millage rate would bring in revenue for the city's general fund in order to continue providing city services.

"Such as police, fire, general government, planning and community development," he says.

"I'm in favor of it if it means more police protection," says businessman Cleve Warnock.  He is one of the few people in favor of the hike.

"We need power that can only money can bring. Without money to put in the things that Moultrie needs, that's the name of the game," he says.

So far, the new millage rate has not been written in stone and many hope it won't be if it comes at the expense of their wallets.

The new targeted millage rate would generate more than three million new dollars for the city. Council members will hold several more public hearings before they set the millage rate September 26th.