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Porterdale council hears opposition to millage increase

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

PORTERDALE -- The first of three public hearings for the city's proposed millage rate increase Tuesday night drew critical comments from two citizens, including former mayor Wayne Maddox.

Maddox said that although he was protesting the city's plan to increase it's millage rate by 2 mills, he "knew it wouldn't do any good."

Mayor Bobby Hamby explained that the city has cut one position each in the Police Department and in Public Works and is furloughing remaining employees four hours per week in order to reduce expenditures. However, the millage will still need to be increased in order to collect enough property tax to operate the city due to declines in property values and in other revenue collections, city officials have said.

Maddox told the council that during his tenure as mayor he never increased the millage and never increased fees for water or garbage collection.

"My question to you is, how much money do y'all need to run this little town? Where does all the money go?" Maddox said.

Hamby explained that increases in water rates and garbage collection fees were due to an increase in the wholesale water rate from the county and an increase in landfill fees.

"There are increases that we incur that have to be passed along to the consumer," Hamby said.

Maddox also complained about the personnel cut to the Police Department. Maddox said he has seen reduced police patrols on third shift when they are needed most. He said he has had four AC units stolen from rental houses in Porterdale this year.

"We ain't getting nothing extra for the money we're paying," Maddox said.

Resident Kenneth Hawkins, who said he is a former police officer, agreed with Maddox that police patrols should not be reduced on third shift.

"The worst thing the city of Porterdale can do is cut the Police Department," Hawkins said. "Ninety percent of your crime occurs on third shift."

City Manager Bob Thomson said patrols on third shift have been reduced by four hours, not by an entire shift.

The second and third public hearings for the millage will be held Saturday, July 23, at 11 a.m. and Thursday, July 28 at 6:30 p.m. Both public hearings will be held at City Hall.

The City Council voted June 28 to increase the property tax millage by 2 mills, to 19.892 mills. The increase represents a 7.6 percent increase in tax revenues, or $22,728. According to a five-year history of Porterdale's millage rate prepared by the city, Porterdale's net millage rate for maintenance and operations increased from 8.899 mills in 2006 to 17.518 in 2010. The amount of taxes generated by those millage rates was $241,175 in 2006 and $299,134 in 2010. The 2011 millage rate is expected to generate $321,862 in tax revenue.