Valdosta residents voice concerns at property tax increase heari - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta residents voice concerns at property tax increase hearing

Several residents showed up to a public hearing to ask question and discuss concerns about a proposed 27 percent property tax increase. (Source: WALB) Several residents showed up to a public hearing to ask question and discuss concerns about a proposed 27 percent property tax increase. (Source: WALB)
Concerned taxpayers filled the seats at city hall with a lot of questions and comments. (Source: WALB) Concerned taxpayers filled the seats at city hall with a lot of questions and comments. (Source: WALB)
City officials held the first 2 of 3 public meetings to discuss a proposed 27 percent property tax increase. (Source: WALB) City officials held the first 2 of 3 public meetings to discuss a proposed 27 percent property tax increase. (Source: WALB)
Dan Davis (Source: WALB) Dan Davis (Source: WALB)
Mayor John Gayle (Source: WALB) Mayor John Gayle (Source: WALB)
VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

Residents at a hearing in Valdosta at noon on Wednesday were extremely upset with city leaders. 

And of course, whenever people talk about money, others will speak up. 

Concerned taxpayers filled the seats at city hall with a lot of questions and comments.

City officials held the first 2 of 3 public meetings to discuss a proposed 27 percent property tax increase. 

"We had to get competitive on our pay scale and that's basically what the increase is," said Mayor John Gayle.

Competitive pay for public safety employees. 

Officials said that the city has lost nearly 30 of those employees to other cities that offer higher pay.

But residents in Valdosta haven't seen an increase like this in years, in fact, they're used to seeing it drop. 

"It was easy for 11 years to recommend reducing the millage rate. It was difficult the 2 times in 22 years we've had to recommend an increase. It is the most painful and difficult recommendation," explained City manager Larry Hanson.

And one after another, community members took to the podium to voice their concerns. 

"They're just not being very practical and not looking at how they can reduce spending," said Valdosta resident and business owner Dan Davis.

And some council members agreed.

Community members said that while they do support higher pay for public safety officials, they don't think higher taxes is the way to make it happen. 

"They can't tax their selves into prosperity. They need to cut spending and be a little wiser in their spending," explained Davis.

The city is required to hold 3 public hearings.

The next one will be next Thursday starting at 5.

Council members will vote on the proposal immediately following that meeting. 

One person said that he feels like the council has already made its decision and feels the meetings are just a formality. 

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