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Citizens ask county commissioners not to raise taxes

A group of concerned citizens asked Dougherty County Commissioners not to raise property taxes during a public hearing Monday morning.

A group of concerned citizens asked Dougherty County Commissioners not to raise property taxes during a public hearing Monday morning.

— A handful of local residents asked Dougherty County Commissioners Monday to reconsider a proposed 2-mill property tax increase for the unincorporated area, arguing now is the not the time to add another financial burden to the local citizenry.

The comments came as a part of three public hearings that are required by law any time that a local government proposes increasing property taxes. The second hearing is set for tonight at 6 p.m. with the third coming just before the commission's vote on the proposed millage increase at 10 a.m., July 16.

Jim Horn, who said he lives on Flowing Well Road in the unincorporated part of Dougherty County, said he was concerned with what he said were the financial and social decline of the county over the last 15 years and cited the "gate theory," during his comments.

"People are either standing in line to move into your community or they're standing in line to move out of your community. I think we all know which way that gate is swinging," Horn said. "I just don't think that we're getting our money's worth when we talk about our taxes and services."

Local businessman Chuck Knight, asked the commission re-dedicate itself to finding areas to cut spending or risk driving more people out of the county.

"As a business owner, I've made some tough decisions and thankfully I haven't had to get rid of any employees," Knight said. "This is not the time to raise taxes... It's going to be a hardship that many just won't be able to afford and you'll see a spike in foreclosures and the decay of our neighborhoods if you keep this up."

Dinorah Hall, who has been one of the few people in the community to sit in on the commission's finance committee meetings and many of the commission's budget deliberations, asked commissioners to weigh the impact a potential tax increase could have on those who own investment property.

"There are millions of dollars worth of investment property in the county that will theoretically have lower-property values," Hall said, pointing to the hardship that investment property buyers would have either offloading taxable property or purchasing it.

While commissioners have adopted a Fiscal Year 2013 budget, they haven't officially adopted a resolution setting the millage rate -- the mechanism that levies property taxes based on the value of your home, the amount of the budget and the size of the tax digest.

Commissioner Ewell Lyle, a member of the finance committee who has argued against a tax increase at each public meeting, said Monday that he would rather the county's budget revert back to last year's amounts than the commission adopt an increase in the millage rate.

"We keep saying that there is nothing else that we can do. No, there is nothing else we're willing to do," Lyle said.

Pointing to a recent story in the Herald about how officials at River Point Golf Club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from the U.S. Bankruptcy court, Lyle said that the club's high taxes was one of the reasons for the move.

"He's telling us exactly what we're talking about here is true," Lyle said. "That his taxes, as is, are too much for him to afford."

Commissioner Muarlean Edwards who said Monday that she left the previous budget meeting before the vote for a "matter of life or death," said that she would've voted against the budget because she trusts the two members of the finance committee who voted against it -- Lyle and Commission John Hayes.

"When two fellow commissioners who are on the finance committee vote against (the budget), it's a cause for concern," Edwards said.

Hayes reiterated his concern for raising the millage, saying that he's worried if the county doesn't change its way of thinking that they'll find themselves right back in the same situation next year.

"We have to be proactive so that we aren't in this same boat next year," Hayes said.

Chairman Jeff Sinyard reiterated previously made comments that no one at the commission's table wants a tax increase, but that currently it's what needs to be done to meet the obligations of the county. Sinyard also restated his call that the finance committee have a year-round, involved role in finding alternative sources of revenue other than property taxes while looking for additional places to cut.

"Growing the tax base is half of the proposition we have going forward, the other half is cutting spending," Sinyard said. "I think there's no doubt that we have to be proactive."

To that end, the county has reversed a downward-trend in its healthcare program that was teetering on the edge of insolvency, which was, at its worst, nearly $2 million in the red. By shifting more of the financial burden away from the taxpayers and onto its employees, re-examining its plans and performing a services audit, the county is now saving money on its healthcare expenses.

It's a formula Sinyard said he wants to use on the county's overall financial problem.

Comments

Albanite 1 year, 9 months ago

Lets take Jeff Sinyard at his word: That the county "NEEDS" a tax increase to pay for its obligations.

Okay, Jeff - then you owe the county an explanation as to why you failed to control expenses and why you allowed the county to get into debts that it cannot repay without additional tax increases. Do you run Adams exterminating as poorly as you run the county?

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athens 1 year, 9 months ago

Jeff can control Adams, he cant control the inadequate leaders that control Albany,,, you should appreciate his dedication and feel blessed that someone cares about Albany like he does. By the way, what have you done?

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Moe 1 year, 9 months ago

Looks like Ken Hodges or Joel Wernick are posting under the "Athens" alias on behalf of their boy, Sinyard.

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billybob 1 year, 9 months ago

Sadly, caring is not enough.

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stc1993 1 year, 9 months ago

athens just what has Jeff Sinyard done? I personally don't know of anything. I lost faith in him when he was preaching on TV to support Cooper tire & I saw one of his company trucks with brand new tires & they weren't Cooper.

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iko 1 year, 9 months ago

How much money does Sinyard get paid by Phoebe Putney each year through Adams Exterminators?

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Progressive 1 year, 9 months ago

Good request Albanite. Why have Jeff, Lamar Hudgins, Gloria Gaines, Mauralene Edwards and Jack Stone consistantly failed to control expenses, and voted to continue doing the same thing year after year (for the past 5 years) expecting a different result? They have failed us! And, they have failed to adhere to their own known business principles of cutting costs when revenues decline. They have used up the reserve funds and now the county unincorporated area is in a big hole. So they turn to the tax payers to bail them out. They continue to use the same verbiage: we have done everything we could do and just do not see where we can find any room for cutting expenses. Well, either lead, follow, or get out of the way of those who can find solutions and make the appropriate decisions. These 5 did not make any suggestions for cutting costs! Commissioners Lyle and Hayes tried to tell them ways to cut, and they did not listen.

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Cartman 1 year, 9 months ago

Don't forget that Jeff Bodine Sinyard was heading the county commission when we got hit with the tax assessment on the front edge of the then-looming and obviously-approaching housing bubble, that was so outrageously high - it sparked the formation of a citizens' tax group. When citizens cried - Jeff turned a deaf ear. He knew it was not an election year, and he counted on the public's short memory and apathy. Well. He was partially correct. But there are too many of us who will never forget it. He is also a friend of Phoebe - and that is understating things. Yeah Jeff. The county "needs" a tax increase alright. Keep turning that screw. At least, you are benefitting the surrounding counties. Lee, Mitchell, Calhoun, Terrell, and Worth thank you for providing them more growth.

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DoctorDorite 1 year, 9 months ago

The commission is running businesses and people out of the county on the fast track, just ride around and look at all the deserted homes and store fronts around Albany and Doughtery Co., buildings sitting empty, abandoned, beginning to look like a 3rd world country, renting/leasing is vertually impossible at any price. Who wants to improve a building that sits empty when the tax rates go up with improvements, thats no incentive at all. Several other counties around are also having budget problem but theirs are coming from growth and expanding services which is definetly not the case here. If the officials can't deal with the budget problems then they should'nt run for re-election knowing its over their heads, do the residents a favor admit your short comings and step aside and let others give it a try.

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athens 1 year, 9 months ago

Do you really think Jeff Sinyard by himself can control Albany's expenses.? You people are wrong.Could you work with these inadequate people? He is the most dedicated Albanian I know. Why he subjects himself to Albany's abuse I'll never understand. He is too good for the place. Dont stand on the sideline ,jump in if you have the answers.

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Moe 1 year, 9 months ago

My "answer" is to vote out Sinyard and the other advocates of higher taxes.

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waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

Face the facts, someone has got to pay, right now the law is set up to make that the property owner. Time to sell out and move, or accept your fate.

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timeforchange 1 year, 9 months ago

Cutting the budget is not popular although necessary. If the Dougherty County Police Department (DCP) is consolidated with the Sheriff’s Department as the criminal patrol section the savings would be enough to help with the budget shortfall. The four highest paid positions could be eliminated at DCP they are the Chief, Assistant Chief, Patrol Captain, and Trainer. These are the highest paid positions not to mention the cost of their benefits and ridiculous expense for unnecessary cars for each. The DCP building could be closed with another huge savings of operational expenditures and capital out lay for needed improvements. The dispatchers could be absorbed as secretaries for the detectives and the 911 center. Police and the Animal Control Officer s would not have to be cut. When you cut the above four positions you have instance savings and control waste i.e. the Chief has a new 2012 Police package Tahoe, the Captain has a new Police package Tahoe, and the Trainer has a 2012 Ford Explorer. The two K9 units need new cars so the Tahoe’s could be converted which would be a benefit for the County and City as the K9 units help in both areas. The Ford Explorer could be traded to another Department for a replacement truck for animal control officer whose truck is wore out and is very functional in the county. Shifting the resources would cut automotive expense and improve the fleet by replacing three maintenance burdened vehicles. There would be no cut to police protection. The force within DCP is structured with shift lieutenants and sergeants so command and control would not be a burden to Sheriff.

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Progressive 1 year, 9 months ago

Excellent! Someone has been doing their homework. Hope you are sharing this info with the DoCo Commissioners. They sure need to hear this!

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rock 1 year, 9 months ago

Again this has been posted since MONDAY today is WEDNESDAY...3 days of the same crap. Come on Herald.

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