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BOC to hold public hearing on budget

COVINGTON -- The Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing and vote on the fiscal year 2014 budget and millage rate Tuesday, July 16.

The public hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. followed by the regular meeting, when the vote will occur, at 7 p.m. The meetings take place at the Newton County Historic Courthouse at 1124 Clark St.

Commissioners voted Tuesday, June 18, to continue with the current year's budget until a new budget is approved. The fiscal year ends June 30.

Three commissioners -- Lanier Sims, Nancy Schulz and Levie Maddox -- reached an informal consensus earlier this month to adopt the rollback millage rate of 11.59 and a budget of $45,952,201. The current millage rate is 10.91.

Commissioner John Douglas opposes the rollback rate, instead supporting a 5 percent cut across the board in all departments. Commissioner J.C. Henderson said he opposes the budget because it includes a user fee for recycling centers.

Several citizens protested the proposed millage rate increase prior to and during the commissioner's June 18 meeting. Some stood outside the courthouse with signs. One man, holding a sign that read, "Don't Tax Me Bro," got a few honks of appreciation from passing motorists.

During public comments, citizen Dennis Taylor said he was the only citizen that spoke out last year to thank the board for keeping the millage the same. But he didn't have any thanks for the board this year. Taylor said he is concerned about the elderly on fixed incomes that have paid into the digest every year, but now are hurting.

"They can't go out and just grab money like the government can," he said.

Jessica Wright said she has started a campaign called Newton County for Liberty and has an online petition opposing a millage increase.

She said she stood in the rain at Walmart for an hour and moms with children and bags full of groceries stopped to sign the petition.

"This is something we will not forget and come reelection time you're not going to want to have voted for this," she said.

The 11.59 mils is the rollback rate, the rate that is needed to generate as much revenue as last year. Keeping the millage rate the same could have resulted in a reduction in force or the requirement of dipping into the fund balance, cuts that were too harsh for some commissioners.

The commissioners that support the rollback rate agreed there needs to be some type of sunset provision to prove to voters that when revenues increase, the rate will decrease.

Comments

dennistay53 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Source- The Georgia Department of Revenue- Only 8 counties in the state of Ga has a combined millage rate of 35mill. These are in order DeKalb, Muscogee, Rockdale, Taliaferro, Clayton, Brantley, NEWTON, Walton. Newton has only $4000 homestead exemption, wheras Clayton has 10,000 HS, Muscogee has 13,500 HS, DeKalb has HS of 10,000 and 12,500 HS and Rockdale has $15,000 HS. Each thousand in homestead exemption takes $35 off your tax bills (at 35 mills) so with this considered Newton's governments already puts the 3rd highest tax burden on it's property and business owners. Aftter the tax increase Newtons combined millage will be 36.123. How will they attract jobs, business and quality growth with these numbers? If i can find these numbers don't they believe potential business and companies with jobs can as well?

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shaftedcitizen 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Do not blame the current county commisioners until you look at the mistakes made in the past. Its hard for the county to have increased tax revenue through bussiness when the past commisioners have allowed the various cities to annex property just for commercial space. Therefore the cities get the revenue not the county. A good example is the Dollar General and lawn mower bussiness on 36. Between the bypass and that property everything is considered in the county, but those two are city.

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dennistay53 9 months, 3 weeks ago

For the most part i agree with you. It is due to poor planning by past commissions. But three on this board including two who plan to vote for this tax hike were on past commissions and were there when the 2011 SPLOST was written. If the $750,000 loan repayment for landfill had been included in that SPLOST as debt reduction this increase may have been avoided.

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henrystamm 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Tax and spenders at work. You get who you voted for and now I have to pay. We the hard working overtaxed payer are no longer represented. The conmen are at work and getting rich.

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Frustrated 9 months, 3 weeks ago

My income hasnt increased so I have to live within my budget and cut corners where I can. When prices and utilities increase I have to adjust. Home valuations have gone down, I understand that. But when I lose money on my home and the BOC want to increase my taxes so THEY can keep spending as usual, I have a problem. Like Mr Taylor said, we cant go out and grab money to make ends meet so why should the BOC?

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mansfield 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Its clear the three tax hikers don't care what is already being paid, its clear they don't care what the total tax is. It is clear they only want more money because they believe the people who have to work for a living are not watching. What is really clear is that they will have big problems in their next election if this goes through. Particularly the "republican" in the crowd.

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Covingtonian 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The electorate have shown that they are indifferent, Ignorant or just plain don't care otherwise how else can you explain J.C 's presence on the board. The man has proven that he can't run his own home much less a county Government. I guess he's fulfilled his committment for his weekend stays at the local jail, smh.

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Del 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Lets not talk about past commissioners, let's talk about the current commissioners, THEY need to tighten the belt, if it means laying off people. When this government induced recession started, I had to let people go that had been with me for 20 years. That was the hardest thing i've done in my life and it was done no fault of me. This new blood in the courthouse needs to make a statement and look after the entire county not just the square!!!

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