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Posted: June 27, 2014 10:04 a.m.

BOC increases budget, lowers millage


Newton County's 2015 appropriations budget

Newton County Board of Commissioners came to a consensus of a budget of $47.71 million and a millage rate (property tax) of 11.225 for its constituents at its budget meeting Thursday night.

The millage rate is more than a quarter of a point lower than the current millage rate, which is 11.54. Fiscal year 2014’s budget was $45.95 million, bringing fiscal year 2015’s newly agreed upon budget to an increase of $1.76 million.

The increase in budget and lower tax rate was approved 4-1, with commissioner John Douglas looking for a rate lower than 11. A similar thought to chairman Keith Ellis’s sentiments of a lower millage rate before the board went to vote.

“11.225 doesn’t make commissioner (Douglas) and I really happy but we’ll go on,” Ellis said.

The increase in budget will be put into the county in several ways, with the first change that was discussed among commissioners being a raise and removal of furlough days for employees.

“We’ve asked a lot of our employees since 2009,” Commissioner Lanier Sims said. “I look at (Newton County) and I look at the fire and sheriff departments, just for two examples — I look at how much those departments spend to train these guys. We’re spending thousands of dollars to get them trained. A year or two later there’s a Brookhaven, McDonough or another county or city offering a little more. So they leave. We don’t just loose good employees — we lost an investment. We’re losing that money we put in there.

“I believe at some point for our strategic planning we need to dig our heels deep in the sand, draw a line in the sand and say we’re not just going to give back holidays, we’re going to give raises. We have to start giving these employees hope. I believe, just from me talking to employees, they’ve lost complete hope in the Board of Commissioners.”

Among the other items discussed in the budget was adding security systems in response to House Bill 60, otherwise known as the gun bill. The commissioners agreed to put in security systems and deputies to run them at the Newton County Administrative Building and the Historic Courthouse. They agreed to let Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown research and get back to them whether or not the administrative building needed one or two posts, covering the main and handicap entrances.

The budget was approved in the commission’s fourth budget meeting after discussions over several millage rates, including one proposed at 10.99.

“I understand our employees haven’t had pay raises in five, six or seven years,” Douglas said. “I understand we have employees leaving for other counties; there is always going to be a Brookhaven or a McDonough or Johns Creek that can pay more. I just have a real problem with us taking another nearly $2 million out of the pockets of our tax payers.”

There will be three tentative public hearings on the budget, July 9 at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and July 17 at 6:30 p.m. The budget will then go in front of the commission for a vote during the third tentatively scheduled public hearing on July 17.

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dct1953: June 27, 2014 12:25 a.m.

The taxpayers have lost confidence in these commissioners as well. Two years in a row that these commissioners have increased tax and by it have told business that they don't want them in Newton County. (All but Douglas). Strange Ellis can get this board to go along with him on everything but tax. Schulz stood in the fireside chat she had last year when the rollback was used and promised that if revenue increased she would vote for the rollback this year. So I guess she lied. Funny they only want to use the rollback when it rolls tax up.

mustang: June 27, 2014 6:56 a.m.

You must understand folks, if they raise your property assessments and lower the millage, they
Have not given you a tax break...
Just more tom foolery from NCBOC!!!

henrystamm: June 27, 2014 7:59 a.m.

Only dimwits and RINOS can call a reduction of the tax rate and increase in spending and taxing us hard working Taxpayer a saving. Just incredible. Lets throw all of the out next election, that's includes the black racists in government.

JohnDouglas53: June 27, 2014 8:35 a.m.

By law this new millage rate must be advertised as a tax increase and it will take almost $2 million more out of the pockets of those who earn it than was taken last year. It also makes it that much harder to keep the promise made to return to 10.66 mils at the end of FY 15. Remember that promise was made at the start of FY 14 when the millage rate was "rolled back" in government speak but actually raised nearly a full mil. I will vote NO again.

JohnDouglas53: June 27, 2014 9:25 a.m.

BTW, the headline that the commission lowered taxes is incorrect. This is a tax increase as defined by Georgia law.

dawgs14: June 27, 2014 9:59 a.m.

I still do not understand the need for added security measures anywhere because of HB 60. Are we saying that citizens with a permit to carry are now (because of HB 60) more likely to enter our government buildings and start shooting than they were before HB 60 or are we thinking the criminals somehow think HB 60 is their greenlight to do the same? I also realize a month or so back that a man, in another county or state, with a permit to carry enetred a government building and started shooting but that would have happened with or without HB 60. My questions is - what is the logic for adding this expense to the budget? If the BOCs feels it is simply time to add this security measure then tell the taxpayers that but I am against doing it in the name of HB 60. One other thing - my kids do not pass through metal detectors at their schools. I'll hang up and listen.

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