Social Circle millage rate unchanged

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- Social Circle residents will see no increase in their millage rate this year.

The City Council adopted on Tuesday a millage rate of 7.411 mills -- the same rate it's been since 2008 when it was reduced slightly from the previous year.

City Clerk Susan Roper said the tax digest numbers were sufficient that Social Circle was not required to raise the millage rate to keep the 2010-11 budget in line.

"The digest numbers came in strong enough to match our budget projections," she said. "We project our budget very conservatively, and I was pleased when it all worked out and didn't cause us to make budget adjustments."

According to the 2010 tax digest figures provided by the city, the gross digest came in at $162,090,779, down from 2009 when it was 169,285,761.

After maintenance and operations exemptions, the net M&O digest for 2010 was $148,006,903, versus $156,433,041 in 2009.

Due to making reductions in expenditures in the 2010-11 budget, Social Circle was able to account for the anticipated decline in the tax digest, Roper said. She said their projections were close enough to the actual numbers that the city did not have to increase the tax rate.

Social Circle's 2010-11 budget, adopted in July, is 18 percent less than the previous year's, reflecting a struggling economy and declining property values. This year's budget is $2.44 million, down from the $2.6 million 2009-10 budget.

While there is no increase in the millage rate, utilities rates have gone up. The City Council in September adjusted utility rates that amount to a net 25 percent increase for water usage and a net 15 percent for sewer service. The rates went into effect Oct. 1.

Mayor Jim Burgess said Tuesday that the city's latest financial statement looked strong. He said that with the budget year about one-quarter complete, the budget likewise should be at about 25 percent of projections.

"Most of our accounts are running under 25 percent," he said.

Burgess said a capital lease on a high-pressure gas main has now been paid off.

"We made a final payment on a huge asset," the mayor said. "That was a large investment by the city and it's a big item off our books."

In other news, the City Council approved giving $1,000 to become a Silver Sponsor of the Georgia Utility Training Academy Facility in Monroe.

Doug White, Social Circle's city manager, said a number of the city's utilities employees have taken advantage of the Training Academy, which requires nominal fees to cover the cost of the trainers and lunches for the trainees.

The Georgia Utility Training Academy was constructed as an initiative by the city of Monroe Utility Department. It is located at Jacks Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on Ga. Highway 83.

The GUTA is a facility modeled after one in Leak City, Ala., and is the only one of its kind in Georgia, according to the city of Monroe's website.

The GUTA provides hands-on training to utilities employees on different subjects, such as gas leaks, water leaks, electrical issues and other hazards that utility workers can face.

The City Council also reappointed Frank Sherrill to a six-year term on the Social Circle Development Authority. Sherrill had stepped down from this post when he was named to the Social Circle Planning and Zoning Commission. He has since resigned from Planning and Zoning, a move that allows him to serve on the Development Authority again.