ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners have officially adopted the 6.983 Millage Rate.
The final vote came 2-1 with Chairman Charlie Paris being the dissenting vote. Later he told FYN there was very little difference between the Rollback Rate and current Millage Rate. “If we stick with the current rate instead of the rollback rate you have to advertise it as a tax increase. I disagree with that. I feel its not. So, my feeling is I did not want the people of Gilmer County to see that we are raising their taxes. I don’t like a tax increase… I wanted to set the Rollback Rate and move on.”
The official motion to adopt came from Post Commissioner Travis Crouch who stated, “I listened to the Special Called Meeting and both arguments and perspectives… At the end of the day, I find, at the end of the day, that the points that Dallas made are compelling in our situation. So, I feel like keeping the Millage Rate where it has been for the past two years is appropriate for our situation.”
This will make the third year in a row that the millage rate has been at 6.983. Previously, it sat at 7.224 before that.
After the motion was seconded, Post Commissioner Dallas Miller opted to comment on the action before votes were cast. “I hope that something as serious as this, as what we decide on property taxes, should not be, [sic] and I’m just going to ask the public to not make this a political issue. This is a financial decision we need to make. We need to do, to the best of our knowledge, what we think is best for our county.”
ELLIJAY, GA – Two meetings in July have tentatively set the tax future for Gilmer County.
The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting to discuss the Rollback Rate of 6.617 and the County’s decision on its millage. During the meeting. their discussion centered around a $291,048 loss to the budget if the Rollback Rate was approved. However, since the meeting, FYN has discovered that a recalculation could mean a drastically different number with the Rollback.
Commissioner Chairman Charlie Paris stated in the meeting that while he was used to Rollback Rates coming with a roughly $30,000 loss to the budget, but the nearly $300,000 loss would be a serious hit to the county.
Post Commissioner Travis Crouch made note of serious issues the County is still facing including rising insurance costs and the Lower Cartecay Road Bridge that needs replacing. Currently, Director Jim Smith has not been able to obtain additional funding for the bridge.
However, with the new information of a recalculated rate, a new meeting is being called for the Commissioners to revisit the discussion with the newer information.
On the Board of Education side, the calculated Rollback Rate suggested 16.24 as the Rollback Rate. Recommending the process to begin with advertising the rate, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, after extended discussion with the Board, she was recommending a rate lower than the Rollback at 16.12.
As the meeting moved forward discussing the rate, the final vote came to approve advertising for the rate at 16.12. However, the vote split at 3-1 with Board Member Nick Weaver as the dissenting vote. Board Member Ronald Watkins was absent from the meeting and did not vote.
FYN caught up with Weaver to ask about his vote. Weaver stated, “I think it should be lower.”
With the lower rate, the BOE should see taxes decrease by $392,870 according to the Board’s documentation.
Holding their final two Public Hearings for the Millage Rate of Gilmer County, the Board of Commissioners listened as citizens delved into questions about the Rate.
Most of the questions focused on attempting to better understand the tax and assessing process including Mike King, who asked more questions from Tax Commissioner Becky Marshall and Head Assessor Theresa Gooch about his personal tax assessment drastically increasing.
Others expressed concerns on the increase, including Elizabeth Hunt who objected to the increase, but asked for the Commissioners to begin actively pursuing more conveniences for citizens. The Commissioner’s and she delved into a few specific possibilities including trash collection and the need for exact change at the county’s collection locations as well as publishing full copies of ordinances and changes on the county’s website for citizens who do not live close to the courthouse or cannot be in attendance of every meeting.
Another citizen, Jim Carr, spoke to the Board expressing his expectation that if the county is rejecting the rollback rate and increasing a half mill on the debt service, there should coincide a betterment of services the county provides. He noted his own road, Old Parker Place Road, falling into serious disrepair over the recent years.
Chairman Paris assured the citizens that the need for this Millage Rate would address these issues as he stated much of the county’s equipment, especially the Road Department, were in serious need of new equipment to provide the services the county needs. He further quoted one situation involving the county’s four dump trucks all being at least 19 years or older.
At their 3rd meeting of the day, the Commissioner’s did approve their 2016 General Maintenance and Operation (M&O) Millage Rate at 6.983, rejecting the rollback rate, as well as adding a half mill to the 2016 General Obligation Bond Millage Rate coming to 1.5 Mils.
Also approved was the Gilmer County Board of Education’s Recommended School Tax Rate at 16.62 Mils