City commissioners vote to decrease millage rate

SHEILA MATHEWS :::

The Griffin Board of Commissioners on Tuesday evening approved a millage rate of 8.611, a decrease of .025 from the previous rate of 8.636.

“We were able to drop the millage rate a few hundredths of a point. It’s not much, but every little bit helps,” said Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith, who said the move resulted from somewhat better tax digest coupled with revenue from the Local Option Sales Tax.

The tax digest is the total value of all taxable real estate and personal property. Once that value is set, a number of exemptions are applied which lowers the tax digest, the figure upon which property taxes are levied.

“There are probably a dozen different exemptions you take away like homestead exemption, disabled veterans and historic properties, and you end up with the net digest,” he said.

According to Smith, the final step in the process – the addition of LOST revenue – resulted in a rollback millage rate lower than that of Fiscal Year 2013..

“The Local Option Sales Tax was basically put in place to basically offset property taxes, so you have to do what we call a rollback of the millage rate based on the LOST collections, which gives you a net millage rate,” Smith explained.

He said property taxes are dependent upon the overall condition of the community, and that is where the city has suffered.

“What people don’t understand is that when property depreciates and you don’t have business and industry because they’ve moved out, the tax digest suffers. The goal is to have a healthy digest. That’s where we’re suffering – our digest is not where it needs to be,” he said. “When you have fewer taxable entities, you have fewer entities to spread the tax amongst. The more businesses, industries and residences, the more you can spread it out. When those decrease, everyone has to pay more to have the same amount of money.”

Smith acknowledged the outcry of some who say government should reduce spending, and he compared the funding of public services to home budgeting.

“The difficulty is just like at home – deciding what you’re going to do without. You have so many different interest groups that it’s just difficult to decide what services you’re going to do without by trimming services,” he said. Ω

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