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Social Circle avoids property tax hike
Councilmen debate fund allocation from upcoming SPLOST round
Social Circle

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — The Social Circle City Council met twice last week to work on the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 and to finalize their Special Local Option Sales Tax allocation. 

The big change to the budget was on the millage rate. 

The original budget, created by City Manager Adele Schirmer, called for a 1-mill property tax increase. 

This hike would primarily pay for raises for police and fire personnel, as well as create a youth programs coordinator position to offer more activities for the young people of Social Circle. 

Mayor Pro Tem David Keener, the District 3 councilman, proposed cutting the youth coordinator position, which would save the city $33,000, leaving a $120,000 hole. 

Instead of raising property taxes to balance the budget, Keener proposed pulling the money from the city’s gas fund, which has a balance of $1.6 million. 

Keener said with the Walton County School District and Social Circle City Schools mulling tax increases, he didn't feel the city should also raise taxes.  

"People need a break," Kenner said. 

The motion passed unanimously. 

The council also made those final modifications to its proposed SPLOST allocation on Tuesday. 

Social Circle expects to get a little over $2.9 million from SPLOST over the next six years, should voters approve the 1 percent sales tax in November. 

Some $1 million of that will go to transportation projects, namely replacing the traffic signal at Cherokee Road and Hightower Trail and installing sidewalks around the city. 

Another $385,000 will be used for public safety and $250,000 will go to upgrading city buildings. 

The original plan called for $200,000 to go to parks and a little over $1 million to water and sewer. 

Councilman Steve Shelton noted that the county was in charge of parks, and Social Circle faced serious problems with water and sewer. He proposed lopping off all the parks funding and putting it toward water and sewer. 

Keener and Councilman Tyson Jackson agreed water and sewer projects were more urgent, but parks were popular and were more visible investments. They wanted to take $100,000 out of parks. 

The latter plan eventually passed over Shelton's dissension, bringing the total SPLOST dollars for water and sewer to $1.1 million and cutting parks to $100,000.