City Council mulls raising
property taxes

SOCIAL CIRCLE - The City Council is considering raising taxes this year to help spur economic development.

According to a press release from the city, the City Council is proposing a 1 mill increase to bring the millage rate to 8.411 for 2009 property taxes.

"The 1 mill increase in the 2009 property tax millage rate will allow the city to support the Social Circle Development Authority with efforts to acquire land for economic development in Social Circle to attract new jobs to the city," the release states.

If approved, the 1 mill increase is expected to raise approximately $160,000, which will be used for property acquisition by the Development Authority.

Based on information provided by the city, the property owner of a home valued at $200,000 pays approximately $1,854.40 in property taxes. A 1 mill increase would boost that tax bill by about $80 to $1,934.40.

Social Circle has proposed a $3.65 million general fund budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year. This figure actually represents a reduction of more than $250,000 from the current year's budget.

City Clerk Susan Roper said the proposed budget reflects the current economic recession. It includes no cost-of-living or merit raises for employees and does not provide for any new hires, she said.

Roper said the city originally planned to keep the millage rate at 7.41 until the Economic Development Authority requested financial help in purchasing land for the industrial park.

Grady Lemonds, chairman of the Social Circle Development Authority, said Friday the Development Authority is in negotiations with two private property owners to purchase approximately 244 acres along Hightower Trail. Lemonds said the land the city hopes to acquire runs roughly from the Solo Cup distribution center to the new General Mills distribution center now under construction. If negotiations are successful, the approximately 300 acres along Hightower Trail will adjoin the 56 acres the city already owns near the bypass.

"We are hoping to tie it all together into one industrial subdivision," Lemonds said.

The city will hold three public hearings before the City Council is slated to vote on Aug. 18. The first public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday. The second one is planned for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 17. The final hearing is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18. The City Council will meet immediately following the third hearing to consider adoption of the budget and to set the millage rate. The hearings will be held in the Social Circle Community Room, 138 E. Hightower Trail.

The public can view Social Circle's budget on the city's Web site, www.socialcirclega.com.

SideBar: If You Go

· What: Public hearings on the proposed budget for the city of Social Circle including a 1 mill increase in property taxes


· Hearing No. 1 - 6:30 p.m., Monday

· Hearing No. 2 - 1:30 p.m., Aug. 17

· Hearing No. 3 - 6:30 p.m., Aug. 18. Immediately following this meeting, the City Council will consider the adoption of the budget and set the millage rate.

Where: Community Room, 138 E. Hightower Trail

More information: A copy of the budget is available online at www.socialcirclega.com or at City Hall, 166 N. Cherokee Road, Social Circle