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Posted: July 25, 2013 9:41 p.m.

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Oxford raises millage rate

The Oxford City Council officially approved raising its millage rate Monday to 7.85 to offset declining property values.

The city has raised its millage rate – known colloquially as the property tax rate – each of the past five years, starting from 5.33 in 2008 and increasing to 7.6 last year, while its tax digest – the value of all land, buildings and vehicles in the city – has declined from $29.75 million in 2008 to $15.32 million in 2013.

The council unanimously approved the increase, which is known as the rollback rate and is designed to keep property tax revenues the same year to year to account for either property value increases or decreases.

The council had been scheduled to vote at a meeting last week, but didn’t have a quorum and moved the meeting to Monday, said City Clerk Lauran Willis.

Even with the increase, Oxford will still collect $7,060 less in property taxes than last year, according to city documents; the city will collect a total of $120,316 in property taxes in the 2013-2014 budget year.

The majority of the city’s budget, $2.47 million, comes from its sales of electricity. The city transfers $787,141 from the electricity fund to its general operating fund and its capital projects fund. The city of Covington is similar in that it subsidizes its budget with sales of electricity and gas as opposed to collecting more in property tax revenues.

Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry previously said the city has used the rollback rate as far back as he can remember, though he didn’t know if the city used it when property values were increasing. However, the city also passed a $10,000 homestead exemption years ago, which reduces the tax bills of homeowners who have their primary homes in Oxford.

City gets road money from state
Oxford city officials received some good news recently, when the state announced it was giving the city $17,613 in paving money through the Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant program. The city had conservatively budgeted to receive $14,000, according to City Manager Bob Schwartz.

Schwartz said the council will be discussing which roads to pave in the future, as a final list doesn’t have to be sent to the Georgia Department of Transportation until Jan. 1. The city will have to provide 30 percent matching funds, which is $7,548, bringing the total amount of paving money up to $25,161.

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