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Albany City Commission OKs 1.33-mill tax increase

Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard glances up during discussion of an increase of the city's millage rate Tuesday night. Howard and Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta were the only two commissioners to vote against a 1.33 increase in the millage rate.

Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard glances up during discussion of an increase of the city's millage rate Tuesday night. Howard and Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta were the only two commissioners to vote against a 1.33 increase in the millage rate.

— ALBANY — The Albany City Commission voted 5-2 Tuesday to increase the property tax rate for city residents by 1.33 mills.

Commissioners Jon Howard and Roger Marietta voted against the measure, which will be used to fund the city’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

Before the vote, Marietta said he was hopeful that the city’s financial situation had improved more than had been expected and that a last-minute compromise could be reached to avoid a millage rate increase or to implement a smaller one.

“I just think there’s room for compromise here,” Marietta said.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said that she struggled with supporting any kind of tax increase, but said that after reviewing the city’s budget there “just was nothing else that could be done.”

“This isn’t something anyone wanted to do,” Hubbard said. “I’m hopeful that things will improve faster than we anticipate and that we can do like we’ve done in years past and roll it back.”

Commissioner Christopher Pike tweeted “tough decision to raise taxes” following the meeting.

Pike and Hubbard were joined by commissioners Tommie Postell, Bob Langstaff and Ivey Hines in approving the measure.

Only one person spoke at the City Commission’s last public hearing on the tax increase.

Former NAACP chapter president William Wright reiterated his call for commissioners to not increase the financial burden of the residents of the city, saying that between a total millage of nearly 40 mills and a 20 percent increase in rates from the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission, the people of Albany had had enough.

“We’re overtaxed and overburdened,” Wright said.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

Why Not??? It's mostly NOT THEIR MONEY!!! NOT COMING OUT OF THEIR POCKETS!!!!! How much was cut from the budget? What PERCENTAGE was the budget reduced??

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Progressive 1 year, 8 months ago

Not a big surprise. But it would be interesting to hear why the 2 voted against the increase. The 5 that voted for the increase should be asked what they plan to do over the next 6 months to identify ways to reduce expenses. I mean, actually get them to THINK what needs to be changed to STOP tapping into the reserve funds and meet the budget requirements. To do nothing would be irresponsible... but hey, they do have Postell to rely on for suggesting all of these great ideas when he is not making racist comments.

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REM 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm sure the time will come when the 1.33mill increase can be rolled back. Until then, I also challenge officials to closely examine costs within their control and see what they can do to cut back (which is what they have been doing in all these budget meetings anyway). However, I do hope that citizens will take a step back and realize that with reduced spending by government entities, services may be scaled back or even cut out. So, If you want expenses cut, don't complain the moment you can't get just what you wanted from the city or county government in a time frame that you see fit. Everybody's working hard for a buck and a dime. Times are tough and have been tough for awhile. Everyone is hurting, and therefore, we're all on pens and needles while counting every few cents. We all just need to suck it up and deal, be positive, and support the very few public officials who are not corrupt so that Albany can move forward.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

This is the first of many millage rate increases to come. Have you been paying attention and attending the Hearings?

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Outtahere 1 year, 8 months ago

Here's a little information for you: All city employees are NOT working hard!!! Please believe me when I say that there is a lot of waste. Also, there are MANY people in positions they are not qualified for!

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

I certainly believe you. That is why I questioned them at one of the Hearings. Langstaff didn't directly answer any of my questions. He danced around the answers but still left me with more questions. I see right thru them.

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agonized 1 year, 8 months ago

You are right about that. Too many people making way too much money, just drawing a check and drawing flies.

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RedEric 1 year, 8 months ago

Transparency!! How many households are paying property tax? How many are not? How many churches are not paying property tax? How many buildings owned by Phoebe Putney are not paying property tax? This info should be public knowledge. It should be released to all media and let the TAXPAYERS decide if exemptions are justified. These people and groups all expect to receive city services and then expect us to pay for them. This is wrong especially when Phoebe and churches are loaded with money.

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dingleberry 1 year, 8 months ago

Would you believe that $700,000,000 in property is not taxed? The property that is not taxed is equal to 1/3 of the property that is taxed which is about $2.2 billion. Our exemptions are much higher than most counties on a percentage basis. Although state law provides for the basic exemptions, the Board of Tax assessors rules on the exemptions and has some latitude in their application.

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stc1993 1 year, 8 months ago

dingleberry, I believe they exempted P&G also. That's a lot of property out there.

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bigbob 1 year, 8 months ago

Must need bigger welcome to albany signs because the million dollar ones aren't working, maybe 5 miilion signs & a bigger arch will help.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

I thank God everyday that I do not live in Albany. That is one thing I did right in my life.

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tocar 1 year, 8 months ago

The 15 percent taxpayers must pay for the 85 percent who do not. How wonderful! The taxpayers are more than stretched to the limit in this city where people and groups expect a free ride. God help us!!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, Doublegate, how do you like your blued eyed boy now? Of course, the strategy is to agitate the taxpayers to the point that the City can completely rob WG&L as the unobjecting citizenry go like lemmings over the cliff. WG&L will be managed by political nabobs as a deep pocket for self-serving politicians. The mess at DCSS will look like child's play compared to the city commission. It is happening before our eyes.

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43cop 1 year, 8 months ago

If I heard the Mayor correctly, she said .33, not 1.33 mil increase at one of the commission meetings, Thank you John and Rodger for your vote, at least you had the citizens of Albany in mind when you voted. There are so many ways to cut, assistants to the assistants would be one cut. A down town manager is not even needed when you have, I guess, people who could do this job through the Chamber or city government. Some of us have given most of our lives to protecting the citizens of Georgia and Albany and Dougherty County, but obviously the so-called leadership does not care and will some day force us out just as Augusta did and the salaries will be frozen by the Feds. I hope all that voted for it can look yourself in the mirror this morning.

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dingleberry 1 year, 8 months ago

Let me just mention that some who vote against an issue such as a tax increase do so when it is known the vote won't matter--the outcome is not in doubt. In these cases, they look good to their constituency for the next election while the dirty deed is done with no tarnish. I think we have one of these, the other may have been sincere.

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SuzieQue 1 year, 8 months ago

I am so glad my family got out of Albany. The tax burden on homeowners is unreal. And the worst part is the tax money goes to schools that are unacceptable for any child to attend.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

Yep, that is why they over inflated the property values a few years back so the school board could get more money to waste. This came out of Nathan Davis' mouth at one of the Hearings for the millage rate increase.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

He didn't say waste though but I knew what he was getting at.

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stc1993 1 year, 8 months ago

Kaosin, all the property owners should get their homes appraised at todays prices & appeal our tax bills FMV. I have a few rental properties in Albany & seems to me some are double what they are currently worth. The amount that they went up a few yrs. back is obscene.

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rightasrain 1 year, 8 months ago

Typical Democrat mentality; stick your hands deeper and deeper into the pockets of the taxpayer. Whether its local, state or the federal level the only way to put an end to this "taxing madness" is another civil war; this time, its the taxpayer rising up against the government. That's the only thing that will get their attention, they certainly refuse to listen.

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ustaknow 1 year, 8 months ago

A must read: " On Jan. 2, 2009, 18 days before the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama, the fortuitously named Luis Fortuno assumed office in Puerto Rico, the first Republican governor in 50 years.

“We were closer to the abyss than most states,” Mr. Fortuno recalled in a recent interview with Deroy Murdock, a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a contributing editor with National Review online.

“When I came into office, we were facing not just the worst recession since the Thirties, but the worst budget deficit in America, proportionally. We were literally broke. We did not have enough money to meet our first payroll,” Mr. Fortuno, 51, recalled. “We had to take out a loan to meet it.” (At that point, he added, “my wife asked me if we could ask for a recount.”)

What to do? Facing a $3.3-billion deficit, Mr. Fortuno did something almost unprecedented in contemporary public finance: “We cut expenses.” He took a 10-per-cent pay cut; senior bureaucrats got a 5-per-cent reduction. He cut 20,000 public sector jobs permanently and more temporarily – saving more than $900-million. In his first year in office, he slashed government spending, in absolute dollars, by 20 per cent.

Mr. Fortuno also cut taxes. He lowered the corporate tax rate to 30 per cent from 41 per cent (with further cuts coming in each of the next two years). Personal income tax rates dropped by 25 per cent (with further cuts coming in each of the next five years).

He gave homeowners a five-year property tax holiday, and scrapped capital gains and death taxes. These reforms put a floor under property values. In 2011, existing home sales increased by 35 per cent (compared with an average decline of 7.9 per cent in the continental states); new-home sales increased by 92 per cent (compared with an average decline of 9.9 per cent in the continental states).

To do anything in the old economy, Mr. Fortuno said, “You needed to obtain 28 permits … and go to 20-plus different agencies to do that.” Today, you need go to only one agency for a permit, “or you can go to PR.gov and get it online.”

In another fundamental reform, he transferred public sector workers from “old-fashioned, statist defined-benefit pensions” to “market-friendly, defined-contribution pensions.”

Standard & Poor’s has upgraded Puerto Rico’s credit rating to “positive” from “stable” – its first upgrade in 28 years. Moody’s took Puerto Rico bonds back to triple-A, the highest rating in 35 years. “We are moving in the right direction,” Mr. Fortuno said. “So we can keep lowering taxes.”

In three years, Puerto Rico’s budget deficit has been reduced to $600-million from $3.3-billion. In 2009, its deficit equalled 44 per cent of its revenue; in 2011, it stands at 7 per cent. In 2009, as a ratio of deficit to revenue, Puerto Rico ranked 51st among American states, at the bottom of the pack. In 2011, it ranked 15th.

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Outtahere 1 year, 8 months ago

Mr. Fortuno cared about getting results and he cared about the people. That's the difference between him and our clown posse. There are way too many people in positions that are not qualified to be there. Community and Economic Development would be a good place to start cutting expenses and salaries!

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ustaknow 1 year, 8 months ago

T-SPLOST will be the next tax increase unless we can stop it. I have advocated for every splost measure in past- but when you have fraud at the schools and Cutliff grove type incidents where money simply disappears- how can one continue to advocate for fraud and abuse. i want our City to prosper and I really believe it can still be turned around- but it will take a business friendly and low tax environment to do it RIght now Albany fails on both categories.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

Why couldn't they just lay some people off or reduce some people's salaries? Having 2 Asst. City Managers is too much for a city our size. Plus, if we didn't have to pay out of our pockets all those bunk HUD loans then we wouldn't be in this mess now would we? People wake up!! The Commission needs a shake up! If you want this to stop then run against these idiots come re-election time.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

BTW, thank you Wonderbread and Commissioner Howard for not voting for the tax increase.

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ustaknow 1 year, 8 months ago

The salaries of administrative level city management should decrease relative to the population shrinkage. It is a direct reflection of mismanagement and therefore is relative.

I know one example that bugs me is the school supers salary of 176k This is simply too much money and there are qualified teachers who will gladly step up and do his job for 90k.

We have got to stop this raising taxes on our citizens to compensate for a shrinking tax base. The Crime is the last part of the puzzle. The cops are doing their job and locking them up- but it is the judges that let the offenders out with little or no consequences.

Good job city police officers. Maybe the judges will support you in future

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thedeepend 1 year, 8 months ago

Why doesn't the Herald reiterate the fact this is just the first installment of increases slated by the commission? This is incremental and the first of three increases slated at 1.33 mills each to be put in full effect by 2018 to replace the Great MEAG Swindle money. Get involved people, Albany is digging its hole deeper when we don't stand up for ourselves. Over taxation is one of the cornerstones why Albany cannot attract well paying jobs.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

ROFLMAO Hey Albany just remember these are the same clowns that will NOT tell you how they will spend T-Splost money and are dying to get their hands on WG&L's money too.

Demand Honesty and Accountability from Politicians. VOTE NO on T-Splost

Demand Honesty and Accountability from Politicians. VOTE NO on T-Splost

Demand Honesty and Accountability from Politicians. VOTE NO on T-Splost

Demand Honesty and Accountability from Politicians. VOTE NO on T-Splost

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whodat 1 year, 8 months ago

I think a better solution is to vote for politicians who will be good stewards and managers of the taxpayers' monies. Because whether you like it or not, one of two things is going to happen. Either taxpayers will foot the bill for roads and bridges from other funds OR our roads and bridges will continue to decay. Personally, I am like most who are fed up with mismanagement in government. But it is a fact that not only will TSPLOST fund jobs while construction is going on, it will--through improved transportation infrastructure--add to the economies of each area of the state.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

You actually believe that hype!? LOL You want to pay 8 percent on the dollar rather than 7 percent. How is that going to attract more jobs to this region? We ARE taxing ourselves to death because the voters vote in all SPLOST funds.

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TheMember 1 year, 8 months ago

Are you kidding me and yourself? 75% vote on color not qualifications.

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dingleberry 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't have confidence that T-SPLOST will do anything other than spend money with little to show for it. Do you really believe that better roads leading into Albany can overcome the negative aspects it has to offer? Do you believe the widening of Clark Ave from Maple to Jefferson, and the building of still another bridge across the Flint, will encourage more business and industry? Do you think that bike paths and sidewalks in Lee Co will improve the economy? Our problem is not a shortage of money for better "transportation". It is a problem of application of funds by the GDOT and others who will do the same poor job with any funds received--and the locals certainly won't be doing anything better. Read the State Auditor's reports on GDOT and its mismanagement.

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Jacob 1 year, 8 months ago

LOL. The albany electorate is getting what it voted for. This is hilarious. Keep voting for the racist, corrupt greed incompetents. Guess who will pay for it albany. You will. Don't think that just because you don't own property, you won't pay. Your landlord will pass the cost along to you and laugh at you in the process.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

You are right. The house next door to me is a rental house that the owner couldn't sale and for a 2 bedroom 1 and half bath he wants $850 for it. INSANE!!

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Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

TSPLOST? Georgia has been divided into 12 regions for TSPLOST purposes. We are in Region #10. Each region is being told the purpose is to build infastructure to bring jobs into their region. This is the product of creative legislators who are sidestepping the distasteful task of cutting spending in the face of decreased state revenues. So they are counting on you to raise your own taxes. It's ingenious. They either take us for idiots or are banking on our apathy. Please vote NO.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

Cartman you are right on the money. Also if this is voted down it can be voted on again in TWO years. BUT if it passes we are stuck for 10 YEARS. with no way out and little to no Accountability.

Demand Honesty and Accountability from Politicians. VOTE NO on T-Splost

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USTPC 1 year, 8 months ago

Albany already has one of the top 5 millage rates in the state of Georgia and now they are raising it more. In addition they want to increase our sales tax by 1 cent to pay for roads and bridges. What the hell are they doing with the vehicle registration fees and property taxes they collect? Aren't those revenues supposed to be specifically for road and bridge repair? This is the reason I am working on getting out of Albany. If I can sell my house I am leaving and moving to a more friendly tax area.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

They won't be happy until we are #1 in the State and I am not kidding.

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dingleberry 1 year, 8 months ago

The vehicle and property tax money money the city and county get are not specific use funds.

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tocar 1 year, 8 months ago

Thank you Commissioner Jon Howard and Commissioner Roger Marietta for voting no to the tax increase. I feel that you have the taxpayer's interests in hand.
If all of the comments are read by the remaining commissioners, it is plain to see what many of the problems are. We are overspending on too many chiefs. There is not any way humanly possible to rationalize why we are paying for and have so many high salaried positions in this city and county. Isn't it a bit dumb that we have a mayor, city managers, a downtown city manager and assistants to assistants? We are known as the welfare capital of Georgia with only 15 percent taxpayers. We are the laughing stock of Georgia. When are you remaining commissioners going to wake up and realize that the minimal taxpayer base can not support the 85 percent. Maybe income is not an object to some of you, but it is to my family. We live on a very fixed income and can barely make ends meet as it is. You are riding the remaining few to death.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 8 months ago

Why is it that none of the media here is looking into the many unlisted properties in the Dougherty County Tax Digest? Ask Denver & Spencer why those properties are missing. Not just tax exempt property, some is owned by Bob Brooks and others. They do NOT exist in the tax records.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 8 months ago

I too think some want to appear to be on the right side, as one of you said, when they know their vote won't change the outcome. Snakes in the grass are most of these politicians.

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