Property tax increase for Lee County citizens -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Property tax increase for Lee County citizens

May 27, 2008

Lee County--  There's good news and bad news for Lee County taxpayers. The good news is that commissioners decided not to impose a $250 Fire/EMS fee for homes and businesses in unincorporated parts of the county. The bad news is they'll raise property taxes instead.

Leaders say that's the best way to get a grip on budget problems that have been building for several years.

Lee County continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Population and money problems have commissioners making tough decisions. "Either cut services, lay people off or close fire stations," said County Commission Chairman Morris Leverett.

Sarah McGuire bought a home in Lee County five years ago. She liked what the county had to offer. "When my husband and I got married we lived in Dougherty County and we just heard really good things about the school system here in Lee County," said McGuire.

But she doesn't like something else on the horizon. "We're not excited about it," said McGuire.

In an effort to balance the budget and keep up with the level of service and safety in the county, commissioners made a decision Tuesday afternoon. "We decided to go up on the millage rate, rather than cutting services and closing fire stations down," said Leverett.

It's something some feel should have been done long ago. County Administrator Alan Ours said in a statement,  "The county is at a financial crossroads...Before fiscal year 2007, the county balanced it's budget each year by overstating revenues and understating expenses."

"I think the millage rate is the fairest thing for us to do," said Leverett.

Commissioners know a tax increase is something people don't want to hear. "I know it's election year and going up on millage is something that's voodoo but you have to do what you have to do," said Leverett.

Leverett feels it's the best decision given the circumstances. "You've got to take care of the county financially and do what's right for the county," said Leverett.

McGuire isn't too happy about it all but hopes it's what's best for the county. "If they need to do what they need to do. If it'll better the county, I guess they have to do what they have to do," said McGuire.

It won't be until the tax digest is established in late June or July that she and other Lee County citizens know just how much it will cost to live in one of the fastest growing counties.

A public hearing will be held June 10th before the final budget is adopted June 24th.



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