The council unanimously passed a rate of 6.775 mills, the same rate its held since 2008. The projected 2012 assessment of property in the city is $432,555,747 and officials report that with the approved rate the city’s projected property tax revenues will be $290,565, down $246,329 from a year ago and $824,283 from the 2009 property tax revenues.
When formulating its fiscal year 2012-2013 fiscal year budget that began April 1, a millage rate of 6.775 mills was included in the budget, making it difficult to change at this point in the fiscal year. But the city is considering changing its fiscal year next year to a later date to have a better idea of the tax digest when approving the budget.
When it appeared that local option sales tax (LOST) negotiations with Douglas County would not result in the tax revenues expected by the city, officials had looked into dual millage rates. But, as those negotiations progressed, it seems the city will receive a LOST split that is more favorable — though the latest proposal hasn’t yet been approved — and the council decided to move forward with a single rate.
Even so, Councilman Rusty Dean pointed out the discrepancy in LOST revenues Tuesday between what the city currently receives from Carroll County and Douglas County, respectively.
“We get $1.1 million from Carroll County and we get ($140,000) from Douglas County, yet we’re rolling all the taxes back in Villa Rica equally,” he said. “It’s kind of appearing that one side is supplementing the other side with taxes. I’m not sure to what degree that is contributing in our looking at the taxes, but this is something we’ve been doing for several years. To continue to do that, it’s not fair to some of our citizens. I’m sure there are others who really like it.”
City Attorney David Mecklin explained that the city has looked into dual millage rates in the last several months and found there is nothing legally that states the city has to do so or that a single millage rate is proper. As LOST negotiations continue with Douglas County, and negotiations with Carroll County gather steam, officials are optimistic the LOST funding the city receives will make the question of dual millage rates a moot point in the future.
“Hopefully, the balance will change sometime in the near future so there won’t be such a problem,” Mecklin said. “There is legal authority that would allow (the city) to have separate millage rates in the two counties that encompass Villa Rica.”
Mecklin said City Manager Larry (Wood has asked the Department of Revenue if it was permissible to handle it this way.
“We haven’t had any response that it was improper to handle it this way,” Mecklin said. “We have not had anyone tell us we have to do it either of the two ways.”