Will property taxes rise with new budget? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will property taxes rise with new budget?

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April 3, 2007

Albany --  Tuesday, Albany City Commissioners took a look at a proposed budget that is 5% higher than last year's.  The plan includes 4% pay raises for public safety workers and 3% for every one else.  There are also pay raises for city commissioners.

Ninety-eight million dollars is a lot of money to try to budget. "It's up about a $4.7 Million from last year," says City Commissioner Bob Langstaff.

So where will the extra money come from?  City Manager Alfred Lott says the 5% increase comes from SPLOST, sales tax and a million dollars in higher property taxes, not from a property tax rate increase, but from increased property tax evaluations.  There is also a 911 rate increase for wireless users among other sources.

Lott says, "I think our public safety people are deserving of that and we need that to sustain key people."

So Lott says he'll reward those workers.  He plans to give a 3% Cost of Living Raise for all city employees except public safety employees, who get 4%.

He also plans to hire three airport officers and eight 911 dispatchers. But more money is also needed in the budget to pay for city commissioners and the Mayor's large pay raises that they recently gave themselves.  Is it possible you'll get a tax break with all the extra money coming in?

City Commissioner Bob Langstaff, Jr. says, "We'll just have to see when we get to the budget.  If we can find another source for a million bucks or cut some expenses to make up for that money."

"Anything's possible," says Lott."Based on my perception as the city manager, this is the best I can do for a balanced budget without reducing services."

Budget talks are only at the beginning stage.  Many changes will likely take place before the budget is adopted.

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