Worth Commissioners push tax increase - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Worth Commissioners push tax increase

July 9, 2007

Sylvester --   Property taxes are going up in Worth County to generate more money for  economic development. Money from a two mill increase that will go to the Economic Development Authority which will use part of it to build a new industrial park.     

EDA leaders say it's better for taxpayers to pay now, rather than deal with a failing economy, which could cost more down the road.        

Engineers are surveying what could soon be a new Worth County's industry. With a tax increase footing the bill, Worth County just purchased 462 acres of land on Highway 82 west, next to the old textile plant.     

That's on top of 87 acres adjacent to the property, the county already owns.     

Economic Development Director Alex McCoy says the extra land will create an Industrial Park. "Any growth would be beneficial to the county."

Worth County already has 87 acres, and the old textile plant sitting vacant. Why not just use some of these properties they already have? "We'll, we have issues with this 87 acres,"  McCoy said.

McCoy says as it stands, businesses just aren't interested opening in the old facility.  His plan is to add water and sewage there, in addition to the newly purchased land. "We could potentially see some interest from subsidiaries and providers to the Kia plant going into Westpoint. that's definitely not a definite, but there is potential there."     

Commissioner Betty Bozeman isn't buying it. "I'm not going to say it's a bad thing, but it might be a pie in the sky."     

She and Commissioner Fred Dent voted no to the idea saying the county needs to work out other budget problems before increasing taxes.  They were outnumbered.     

McCoy says more business is needed to rescue the county from a lack of revenue.          

The county has struggled over the past few years from a lack of industrial businesses.  In 2001, Worth brought in over $60 million from industrial businesses taxes.   But just last year, that revenue dropped to over $38 million.     

McCoy says taxpayers can pay now or pay more down the road. "If we don't have businesses or the ability to bring businesses in, then the only people left to tax are farmers and homeowners."

The Industrial Plant has been in the planning stages since the end of 2005.  

McCoy says the tax increase will cost the average taxpayer in Worth County about $55.00 a year, based on a $68,000 home, which according to the Census Bureau, is the average value of a home in the county.

McCoy won't confirm if an ethanol plant is being planned for the site.

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