Baker Co. property owners to get higher tax bills - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Baker Co. property owners to get higher tax bills

(Source: WALB) (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB) (Source: WALB)
Gabe Ornelas (Source: WALB) Gabe Ornelas (Source: WALB)
Baker Co. School Board Member, Malcolm Parker (Source: WALB) Baker Co. School Board Member, Malcolm Parker (Source: WALB)
BAKER CO., GA (WALB) -

Baker County property owners will soon see an increase on their tax bills after the school board voted to roll back the millage rate, choosing the highest state level on Thursday night. 

Even though the school board rolled back the millage rate to 14.15 mills, residents are looking at about a 3.5 percent increase in property taxes.

That's because there was also a reassessment increase in property values this year, a combination that has some taxpayers outraged. 

"Our taxpayers do not deserve this. Let me remind you all that we do live in an economically-poor county," said Gabe Ornelas. 

With his statement in hand, Ornelas was one of the three residents to express his concerns about the proposed millage rate. 

"I'm very disturbed and upset that they're setting this higher millage rate," explained Ornelas. 

After seeing an increase in property values, three members of the school board voted to roll back the rate to 14.15 mills, the highest the state would allow, to bring in additional $78,000. 

This was on the premise that the lower proposed millage rate of 13.67 mills, would fall short by $121. 

"The board is clueless, they don't know anything about this millage rate," Ornelas remarked. 

At one point, tempers even flared among the board members. 

"We are a school board. We have a fiduciary, wait now hold on, we have a fiduciary responsibility, wait now, if you're going to talk to me, I'm going to talk to you," shouted Board Member Lydia Burch. 

Board Member Malcolm Parker was one of two who opposed the vote. 

"I feel that using the higher millage rate is putting a tax burden on people that is not necessary for us to run our school," said Parker. 

With a $1.9 million budget, Parker said the lower millage rate would've been enough cushion for unexpected expenses. 

But now that it's passed, "I would like to see it used in the best interests of our students," said Ornelas. 

Ornelas and others part of a Concerned Citizens Group plan to take action with a petition to recall the three board members who voted in favor of the higher millage rate. 

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