After a third public hearing Monday night, the Powder Spring City Council voted 5-0 to keep the city’s millage rate at 8.5 mills for fiscal 2015.
Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn was thrilled with the vote.
“I’m always happy any time we don’t have to increase the millage rate,” she said. “So, we were glad to keep it at 8.5 mills, which we have since 2004.”
Even though the millage rate will remain the same, the city will receive more revenue from property taxes over the next fiscal year because the total value of property within the city limits — also known as the property digest — has increased from about $315 million to about $321 million, city manager Brad Hulsey said.
“When (the digest) increases and we keep our millage rate, which is 8.5 mills, at the same rate, we receive additional tax dollars because our valuation went up,” Hulsey said last week.
Hulsey said no one spoke at the public hearing before the vote, although there were several residents in attendance. A presentation made during the meeting regarding the millage rate helped residents understand how the vote would affect their property tax bill and what the revenue would be used for, he said.
“We didn’t have anyone railing about it, or anything of that nature,” he said. “Folks wanted to know how their tax dollars were being spent, and we were glad to tell them.”
Because the city will receive more revenue from property taxes during the next fiscal year, a state law called the Truth in Taxation Law states officials must advertise a “tax increase” and hold three public hearings. Mayor Vaughn was happy to conduct the public hearings to explain the situation to Powder Springs residents, but she disagreed with the text the law requires the city to use in the advertisements.
“I think I have a concern with how it needs to be worded because I think, to the layperson that isn’t involved, it’s very confusing. … I just wish the wording didn’t have to be like that, to put the headline ‘City to raise millage rate.’”
Powder Springs officials had the option to “roll back” the millage rate by 0.449 mills so the city receives the same amount of revenue from property taxes this year as in 2013, but they elected to accept the increase in revenue.
If the city had rolled back the millage rate, the owner of a house with a fair market value of $150,000 would save about $27 on their property tax bill, Hulsey said. However, officials stressed that a homeowner’s property tax bill will only increase next year if the value of their home increased.
Hulsey highlighted some of the things the city plans to do with the increased revenue from property taxes over the next fiscal year, including purchasing additional police cars. The police cars are necessary because the city recently adopted a policy allowing its police officers to take their patrol cars home, Hulsey said.
Additionally, the city will be giving city employees raises for the first time in six years, according to Hulsey. Employees, including police officers, will receive a 1 to 5 percent raise, depending on how long they’ve worked for the city; Hulsey said an employee would have to have worked for the city for 15 years or more to receive the 5 percent raise.