Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis speaks with Commissioner Gloria Gaines before Monday’s Dougherty County Commission meeting. Crowdis is suggesting a 2 mil tax increase to bridge a deficit in the FY2012 budget.
PUTNEY, Ga. — Residents in the unincorporated part of Dougherty County may have to pay more in property taxes after revenues used largely to fund county services in that district have plummeted, County Administrator Richard Crowdis said.
Crowdis is recommending a 2 mlil increase in property taxes. For a home worth $100,000, that would mean an increase of roughly $80 per year.
"We may be able to tweak our spending in May and June, but a millage increase would allow us to keep our noses above water, so to speak," Crowdis said.
It would be the first time since 2002 that taxes in the unincorporated area have been raised.
If no changes are made, the county will end the year $741,000 in the red from the Special Services District Fund, which is the pot of money that is used to fund services in the part of the county that is outside of the City of Albany's corporate limits.
Crowdis says his suggestion is to finish off the fund's remaining reserves -- $473,555 -- and to pull the remaining $267,545 out of the county's general fund in order to balance the FY2012 budget.
If that's done, then the increased taxes in the FY2013 budget, which starts July 1, would go to repay the general fund with the balance to fund the special district fund.
By increasing the millage rate, the special services district revenues would grow by $1.06 million.
Dougherty County Finance Committee Chairman Lamar Hudgins said that raising taxes is always the last option when trying to balance the budget.
"We're just beginning the process. We've managed to spend less but this year we've also received less revenues," Hudgins said. "We'll continue to prod and scrape for whatever revenues we can get and will continue to look at places to cut so we can get this budget in."
For employees funded out of the special tax district -- which is essentially public safety -- they'll be no cost of living pay increases; no merit increases and nine unpaid holidays.
Uniformed officers will see a decrease in uniform allowances of 50 percent.
The Dougherty County Police, which is funded through the special tax district, will see a 11.7 percent increase in its operating budget thanks largely to increasing fuel costs, increases in the cost to dispatch 911, vehicle maintenance costs and increases in vehicle, property and law enforcement insurance premiums.
The animal control budget grew by 54 percent to fund a replacement vehicle purchase, Crowdis said, and there was a 14.5 percent increase in street lighting utilities due to the installation of 38 new street lights that were approved by the commission before a moratorium on street lights was presented.
If the 2 mill change is adopted by the finance committee and then the full county commission, it would put the millage rate at 9.27 mills, the same level it was in 1995 when the value of a mil was much less.
The current 7.27 millage rate for the special services district is the lowest the millage rate has been since 2002 when the millage rate was 8.1, tax records show.