City plans to roll back millage - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City plans to roll back millage

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October 2, 2007

Albany - Most Dougherty County property owners will pay more taxes this year. Just how much more is still the big question since the reappraisal process is still dragging on. Albany city leaders say they don't want your bill to be higher than it has to be, so they plan to roll back the tax rate by more than 10% even if it causes a budget shortfall.

After this year's reassessment, the Dougherty County tax office expects the tax digest to increase by $242 Million. But they don't know for sure since thousands of appeals are still pending. So city commissioners decided not to count on it when setting their millage rate.

"We've essentially nullified the reassessment, so that any tax increase that would have come based on that, we are doing away with by rolling back our millage rate to 9.159," said Finance Director Kris Newton.

That's rolled back from 10.777 last year... More than a 10-percent decrease. The $98 Million budget set by the commission back in June did take the increase in taxes into account, so they'll have to make up for $1.2 Million shortfall by using reserve money.

"That's what this was for," said Newton.  "It was a rainy day fund in case we needed it to help balance the budget and that's exactly what we're doing with it." Finance Director Kris Newton says it's too late to make any cuts to the current budget since they'll begin work on the next operating budget in just about a month. At that time, they'll see if any adjustments can be made.

Denver Hooten said, "Essentially, they made the decision today to not base any of their revenue based on the reassessment."

But the city needed to go ahead and set a millage so a judge from Dougherty Superior Court can issue an order for temporary collections and allow all three governing bodies to continue to function. But more questions remain. Like, will the same problem be in place next year?

When asked if there will be a definite tax digest for 2008.  Tax Director Hooten said, "that remains to be seen."

People who have active appeals will only be sent a bill for 85% of their newly assessed value. When the appeals process is finalized and the tax digest is approved, those taxpayers will be issued a refund, if they overpaid, or asked to pay an additional amount.  

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