Tax a burden to downtown property owners - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tax a burden to downtown property owners

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March 10, 2008

Valdosta - This summer will mark the ten year anniversary of an $11 million streetscape project in Downtown Valdosta.

A project that not only helped attract business to the heart of the city but to the entire community.

"When we have industrial prospects that come through the community, the first thing they want to see is downtown because they feel like if the downtown thriving, it shows how we feel about our community because it is the heart of our community," says Mara Register, Assistant to the City Manager.

But the property owners are still paying the price.  "Part of the funding for the streetscape project came from the downtown property owners themselves," Register says.  "The property owners through the development authority took out a 20 year bond for $800,000 and that community district improvement tax is used to pay the debt service on that bond."

Since 1998, all property owners in the 23 block area downtown have paid an additional tax of 10 mils.

While none would go on camera, some property owners told us the combination of the loan, the failing economy and increase in other taxes could potentially put them out of business.

But the city has some good news. They hope to reduce their debt or pay it off early.

"We can cut the millage in half to five mils which of course gives relief to our downtown property owners and the debt would be paid off in 2014," Register says.  "To keep the debt in place of 10 mils which means the debt will actually be paid off in 2011 which is nine years early."

They hope to meet with all property owners tomorrow and take all measures they can to keep the pulse beating in the heart of the community.

The first of these meetings will be held downtown Tuesday night at Bas Bleu. The second public meeting will be held at Covingtons on Tuesday, March 25th.

Both meetings will begin at 5:30 PM.

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