Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Still Government, It's Just More Expensive

Read the column here,

I didn't have room to delve into it in the column, but the two millage rate reductions by City Hall in 2004 and 2005, both long since obviated by later hikes, are deceptive.

In 2004, growth in the tax digest during the housing boom resulted in substantially more revenue for the city-county government. The folks down at City Hall were simply going to spend the new "free" money. A group of local citizens (and by that I mean Clarke County Republicans) studied the budget and recommended some specific reductions which, to its credit, the Mayor and Commission adopted and were thereby able to lower the millage rate. Readers should remember, though, that taxes can go up even as the millage rate goes down because of higher assessments, which is what happened in this instance. And don't forget that, prior to the public outcry, local government was quite content to simply spend the new revenue.

In 2005, City Hall's own budget documents made plainly clear that the millage rate reduction was not a tax decrease at all. With the implementation of the stormwater utility fee, what money was "lost" via a millage rate reduction was simultaneously gained via the new source of revenue. Clarke County residents were still paying the same amount (actually more), it was just coming out of one pocket as opposed to another.

Unified Government

FY2013 Budget (see page A-8 and A-9):

FY2014 Budget (see pages A-3 and A-4):

Charter (see Section 1-105(b)):

Public hearings on the Unified Government’s budget and millage rate increase will be held in the Governmental Building Auditorium at 5:30 on May 14 and in City Hall’s Commission Chambers at 5:30 on May 21 and at 6:30 on May 23.  Final approval of the budget and millage rate will take place at the Commission’s regular voting session, slated for 7:00 on Tuesday, June 4, at City Hall’s Commission Chambers.

Clarke County School District

FY2013 Budget (see page 1):

FY2014 Budget (see slide 17):

Public hearings on the CCSD’s budget and millage rate will be held at Gaines Elementary School at 6:00 on May 14, at Alps Road Elementary at 6:00 on May 16, and at the CCSD’s administrative offices at 6:00 on May 21.  Final approval of the budget and millage rate will take place at a special called meeting before the Board of Education’s work session June 6.


Clarke County Millage Rate Chart (graciously complied and provided to me by Tax Commissioner Mitch Schrader; most of this information used to be available on the old departmental web site, but did not make onto the “new and improved” version):

Clarke County Tax Comparison Report:

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