County adopts tax rates

ALBANY, Ga. -- With a vote Monday, the Dougherty County Commission became the first local government to lock in its 2011 property tax rate, voting 5-0 to keep the rates at 2010 levels.

With reserves dropping and a property tax digest shrinking, it's unclear how many more years the commission will be able to avoid a tax increase in the countywide and special tax districts, but for now the elected heads of the county government are content to keep tax rates exactly where they are.

At Monday's commission meeting, commissioners held both a public hearing on the millage rate and a regular meeting to lock it in for the fiscal year that started July 1.

There were no public comments at either the hearing or before the vote, which was held with no comment from commissioners.

Commissioners Jack Stone and Lamar Hudgins were absent due to health-related issues, Chairman Jeff Sinyard said.

In Dougherty County, residents pay property taxes to three local governments, depending on where they live: the Dougherty County Commission, the Albany City Commission and the Dougherty County School Board.

Residents who live outside the city of Albany's corporate limits don't have to pay city property taxes but do pay taxes into a special tax district -- an account that entirely funds the Dougherty County Police and the Albany Fire Department's stations in unincorporated Dougherty County.

The Albany City Commission will vote to lock in its millage rate on July 26, and the county school board will likely do the same at some point that week.

Both bodies are expected to keep their millage rates the same.