Decreased property value leads to Ben Hill tax increase - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Decreased property value leads to Ben Hill tax increase

BEN HILL CO., GA (WALB) -

Ben Hill County's property tax rate is going up and county officials say one of the reasons is a sharp decrease in property values.

Laying off county workers for three weeks wasn't enough to close a half million dollar budget shortfall.

Earlier this week, County Commissioners raised the millage rate one mil. Ben Hill County property owners are upset about a property tax increase passed earlier this week.

"The county and city are not doing their jobs as city managers and county managers," says Billy Carlton Rowan, Ben Hill Resident.

Billy Carlton Rowan has lived in Ben Hill county for more than 25 years. He says he shouldn't be punished for the county's lack of planning.

"People don't know how to control the money, plain and simple, they get enough tax money in Ben Hill county to take care of the county year to year," says Rowan.

County commissioners have made several changes to decrease expenses. Laying off county workers for three weeks wasn't enough to close a half million dollar budget shortfall.

And on top of that, Feild says lower property values dropped the tax digest by $5-million this year.

"The county, for a long time, has tried not to raise taxes, it has actually been six years since we have raised the millage rate," says Frank Feild, Ben Hill Co. Manager.

Feild says county officials never want to raise taxes but they have to continue to provide services

"When someone calls for a deputy, they expect a deputy to show you and catch the burglar, when someone is having a heart attack they expect EMS to respond," says Feild.

The one mil increase is a 7% hike and equates to about a $34 annual increase for a home worth $100,000.

Commissioners plan to be extremely frugal when planning the 2013 budget so they won't be in the same financial position they are in now.

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