County: No change to 2017 millage rate

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2016

By Tyler H. Jones

LaGRANGE — County commissioners and officials Friday sought to assure area residents they do not intend to increase the millage rate for 2017.

The total millage rate is expected to remain at 11.31 mills, despite a rise in the general maintenance and operations rate, according to Tod Tentler, county manager.

The formula used to levy property taxes includes three millage rates: the general maintenance and operations rate, the sanitation service district rate, and the debt service rate. Those three millage rates are combined to create a master millage rate that is used to calculate property taxes countywide.

For fiscal year 2016, the general rate was 10.196 mills, the sanitation rate was 0.741 mills and the debt service rate was 0.373. Those three rates combined to create a total millage rate of 11.31 mills.

In fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, the general rate will rise to 10.638 mills, but the sanitation rate will fall to 0.433 mills and debt service rate will fall to 0.239. The changes balance and keep the combined millage rate at 11.31 mills, said Buddy Cashwell, the county’s financial officer.

“Basically, we took the millage from the debt service and sanitation rates and moved it into the M and O (maintenance and operations) millage,” Cashwell said.

Tentler explained the debt service millage rate fell because the county has been able to pay down some of its debt obligations, allowing for a lower millage rate. Likewise, he said, the county’s sanitation operations have become more profitable through commercial operations, allowing the county to lower the sanitation millage rate as well.

Some of the public’s confusion about the millage rate may be due to a state law that requires county officials to publicize proposed changes to the millage rate. The advertised millage rate only includes the general maintenance and operations rate, and not the other two millage rates. Therefore, taxpayers only see the rise in the general rate, and not the decrease in the other two rates, Tentler said.

The last time a millage rate increase occurred was 2013.

Public hearings on the 2017 millage rate are slated to be held Tuesday at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and another hearing will be held June 21 at 9 a.m., when commissioners are set to vote on the rate. All three meetings are scheduled to be held at the Troup County Government Center, 100 Ridley Ave. in LaGrange.

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.