The Upson County Board of Commissioners and the city councils of Yatesville and Thomaston all approved their tax millage rates for 2015 last week. In addition, the BOC approved the millage rate for the Thomaston-Upson Board of Education. The approvals were needed last week in order for Tax Commissioner Barry Cook to carry the approved millage rates to the state for approval.
The county’s millage rate for 2015 will remain the same as last year, as the Upson County Commissioners set the rate for 18.76 mills at a called meeting on September 10. Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston stated the total rate is broken down into three parts with general taxation will be 9.76 mills; unincorporated will be 2.72 mills and joint projects will be 6.28 mills.
However, it has not been an easy task to keep the millage rate from receiving an increase due to the continually shrinking tax digest. At a called meeting on August 20, County Manager Jim Wheeless stated overall the general tax digest has dropped 5.10 percent from 2014-2015 which equals out to $30,424,785 less than last year. Also, the unincorporated tax is down 7.61 percent ($29,372,703) and the joint project tax is down 5.09 percent ($30,564,785). In 2014 one mill of tax was bringing in $595,984 and now in 2015, it will only bring in $565,559.
“So we continue to have an eroding tax digest,” said Wheeless. “Somewhere we’ve got to have something to get it going again. The positive things, between the efforts of the board, the department heads and the administrative staff, all have worked very hard to not have a tax millage increase and that is the most important thing to me. To go through what we are going through and to maintain the 18.76 millage rate, y’all are to be commended.”
The commissioners also approved the millage rate for the Thomaston-Upson Board of Education at 15.38 mills.
The Yatesville City Council voted 4-0 on Sept. 14 to leave its city tax millage rate at 11.02 mills. The city has not been charging its residents a city tax, and Mayor Cecil Moncrief explained what setting the millage rate means for the city.
“Should the city decide to charge an extra tax,” he said, “we can charge up to 11.02 mills. If your millage rate for the county that you get your property evaluation on is 30 mills, and you decide you want to take five mills for the city, then your millage rate is going to be 35 mills. But we’ve not exercised this millage rate since I’ve been on the council and mayor.”
The Thomaston City Council also voted 4-0 on Sept. 15 to set its millage rate at 3.80 mills. The council also approved setting the joint projects millage rate with the county at 6.28 mills.
Mayor Hays Arnold stated that the millage rate actually went down slightly this year.
“We were at 3.84 mills,” he said. “We’re going down to 3.80 mills. There was a very slight increase in the tax digest in the city. That was not the case in the county, but we had a slight increase in the city, therefore we are able to generate approximately the same revenue by going back to 3.80 mills.”
Mayor Arnold also noted that it has been at least 13 years since the city has had to increase its tax millage rate.
“I think that is laudable. We can pat ourselves on the back, if you want to say that, but the fact is the fact. There are cities all over the state of Georgia that would give anything to say that they had not had a tax increase in 13 years, and accomplished as much as has been accomplished in the city of Thomaston.
“Approximately 37 percent of our roads have been redone in that time frame. A huge percentage of our water lines have been replaced. We’ve got sewer projects going on, more paving projects going on. And then, on top of all the necessities, we’ve got our police department addition going on, we’ve got changes and hirings that are going on in our police department. And along with all that cake, you’ve got a good bit of icning, because we’ve got the parks that we’ve been able to ice the cakes with.
“If people could just show my any other community of about 9,000 population that has been able to accomplish the things that we’ve been able to accomplish, through some of the worst times financially that this community has suffered since the Great Depression, I would like for you to do so.”
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1. Larry Stanford can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.