MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – After another meeting of back and forth between commissioners and numbers, the commission came to a compromise.
Commission knew they had to come up with a property tax increase in order to fund county departments, libraries, transit authority, and other agencies.
Tuesday night, the commission decided not to approve the 4.365 millage rate proposed in order to restore funding. So, commissioners had to go to back to the drawing board Thursday afternoon. They found a medium between 4.365 and Commissioner Mallory Jones’ proposed 2.7 millage rate.
“We approved a 3 mil tax increase, shaving a little less than a quarter mil off the original proposal and that’s what we’ve been squabbling about for months now,” said Macon-Bibb County commissioner Virgil Watkins. “The same numbers with virtually no change.”
Commissioner Virgil Watkins, who is also the Operations and Finance committee chairman, presented a budget months ago with a 3.27 mil increase, but the commission wasn’t on board.
The county’s finance department also presented several options to them. One being a 5 mil increase that would help put money in the county’s reserves.
Now, the time is running out. The commission has to get a millage rate to the tax commissioner’s office by August 31st.
“If we don’t get something passed by the commission and to him. He’s going to send his bill out with zero. If he (tax commissioner) sends out his bill with zero. That’s about a 80 million dollar hit. We can’t survive on the remaining revenue that we’ve got for a year. We’d literally be bankrupt,” said Mayor Robert Reichert.
In a 5 to 4 vote, the commission agreed on a 20.83 millage rate.
“Sure we all want it to be a zero increase, but there’s no plausible or actually truly logical budget that does that,” said Watkins.
The next step is to finalize the increased millage rate at next Thursday’s commission meeting at 3 PM.
Once the 20.83 millage rate is approved, the commission can go back and amend its budget with an additional $12 million. The commission will need 6 votes to pass an updated budget, which could restore funding to outside agencies and county departments.
The Washington Memorial Library will keep its doors closed until funding is fully restored.