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Libertarians speak against millage hike

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

COVINGTON -- The East Metro Atlanta Libertarian Party based in Newton is speaking out against a proposed millage increase.

The Libertarians issued a statement to the media this week declaring their belief that other options, such as more cuts to departments and decreases to employee salaries, are available to deal with a budget shortfall versus raising taxes and laying off employees.

"The Board of Commissioners should roll up their sleeves and find areas to cut. As a policy measure, we also suggest that the BOC use zero-based budgeting, which would require each department to justify its spending," Vice Chair Jason Pye said.

The Libertarians are proposing that commissioners reduce salaries for employees making more than $100,000 by 10 percent and by 5 percent for employees making more than $60,000. They are also calling for an additional 3 percent decrease per department above what is already under consideration, exempting the sheriff's and fire departments. They propose additional cuts to Planning and Zoning and the Tax Assessors Office by 10 percent and a 50 percent decrease for the County Attorney's Office.

Secretary Marshall McCart said the proposal is "an alternate viewpoint that we, the executive committee of the East Metro Atlanta Libertarian Party, wanted to get into the public discourse. These are our suggestions to address some of the issues that we did not think were being addressed otherwise -- the main issue being trying to keep as many jobs in our county as we possibly can while not raising the taxes on its citizens."

Founded in 2005, the East Metro Atlanta Libertarian Party is an affiliate of the State of Georgia Libertarian Party. The party supports maximizing personal liberties, less government, less spending, a free market and fewer taxes. The party meets at 7 p.m. at Square Perk in downtown Covington on the fourth Thursday of each month.

County commissioners are slated to approve a final budget and millage rate at their regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Newton County Historic Courthouse. Chairman Kathy Morgan has proposed that commissioners adopt the rollback millage rate of 11.727 mills to overcome an 8 percent decline in the tax digest. Initial projections were that the digest would fall about 10 percent short, but new data indicate the decline may not be as steep as once feared.

That proposal would bring revenues to $46,027,905, nearly $1.8 million more than revenues from the current millage rate of 10.91 mills. Morgan has said that additional county employees may have to be cut if the millage rate is not increased.