JASPER, Ga. – The City of Jasper is holding meetings with citizens to discuss plans to move forward with a major increase of its Millage Rate.
The increase being considered is a 45.6 percent increase over the 4.655 mills that the city has held for three years now. In 2017, the rate was set at 4.655 mills from 2016’s 4.683 mills.
The proposed Millage Rate for 2020 is 6.78 mills. An increase of 2.125 mills.
The last time the rate was raised was 2001 when it went from 4.630 mills to 4.710 mills. The last time the millage rate was over 6 mills was 1996 when it was set at 6.850 mills.
According to City Manager Brandon Douglas, he met with the finance department and department heads, they found that normal operating costs produced a preliminary 2021 budget held a deficit of roughly $551,000. He also noted that indications pointed to a two to two-and-half percent increase in revenues while expenditures increase at three to five-and-a-half percent per year.
Douglas said, “That is not a sustainable financial model.”
He went on to say that the city needs corrective action for the finances. The gap between revenue and expenditures that the city is seeing has come from not correcting these issues sooner.
Douglas also noted the importance of property taxes as they make up 30 percent of the total revenue budget for the city. Many of the sources of revenue that make up the other 70 percent are unknown or not directly controlled by officials and the city. This puts the point of the property tax as something directly controlled by these elected officials.
There will be another meeting of the city at 5:30 p.m. on October 5, 2020, to hear more from the public on the proposed millage rate as Douglas stated, “It is staff’s goal to work with the elected officials through this public hearing process to recommend and adopt a millage rate that is reflective of providing a balanced budget. It is not our goal to just simply adopt a 6.78 millage rate.”
He noted that by the October 5 meeting of the Jasper City Council, he hopes to have gotten with officials through their committees to identify “ways to reduce certain preliminary department budgets.”
As a part of the budget process, the millage rate is adopted before the budget is adopted. The plan for the 2021 budget, according to Douglas, is adoption on December 7, 2020. Working towards that goal. This process is way to see what the budget could look like in order to have the budget in mind while adopting the millage rate which must be adopted first before the actual budget is adopted.