No one from the public was present to speak at the public hearing for the proposed millage rate in Bulloch County on Tuesday morning and a few of the Commissioners were unable to be present, too.
The special-called meeting was scheduled as part of the three meeting state requirement when a millage rate is increased or not rolled back. Chairman Roy Thompson, and Commissioners Curt Deal, Jappy Stringer, and Vice Chairman Ray Mosley were present as County Manager Tom Couch led the discussion to a sparsley seated room, with just a few county employees.
Couch said it is not actually a property tax increase. “It’s really a misnomer, it’s a notice of opportunity for a rollback from the current millage rate.”
Essentially, if the county does not roll back the millage rate and more taxes are collected because of increased values, the state of Georgia recognizes the new collections as a tax increase.
The current millage rate in Bulloch County is 12.34 mills and the rollback rate is set at 12.191 mills. Couch said maintaining the millage rate equates to $7.15 on a $125,000 home.
“The Board of Education rollback and the expiration of some BOE bonds should create a negligible effect [on taxpayers],” Couch said. “We are currently in year three of a five year plan in which we increased the millage rate to 12.34 mills a few years ago to strengthen service levels, particularly public safety, and to rebuild our fund reserves.”
“These words are hard to pronounce…tax increase,” Chairman Roy Thompson said.
Chief Tax Appraiser John Scott spoke to commissioners before the public hearing was closed.
“I would like to express my appreciation to the board for their support of our office and our efforts to form a very equitable tax digest, with the resources we need to do that. There were several years when those resources were hard to get and we appreciate your support.”
Scott also said Bulloch County residents pay less property tax than 98% of Georgians around the state. “That’s a powerful fact. And for the quality of services we have and the quality of life we have in Bulloch County. As the 5-year plan progresses, hopefully we can roll back in the future, but for now, we are building fund reserves.”
The public hearing was closed with no members of the public present. Ultimately, Commissioner Mosley made a motion to adopt the millage rate, which was seconded by Commissioner Jappy Stringer. The motion passed 3-0.
Commissioners Robert Rushing, Walter Gibson, and Anthony Simmons were not present.