Lower tax rate OK’d, but city expects more money

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Brookhaven leaders voted Thursday night to drop the overall taxmillage by a little under two mills, but City Clerk Mike Jinks saidtaxes will still go up slightly.

After a bond was paid off on the Wastewater Treatment Plant, andother bonds have reductions in the property tax levy, the overallmillage amount drops from 35.24 in the 2008-09 budget to 33.33 inthe 2009-10 budget.

The property tax levy, expressed in mills, is used inconjunction with property values to determine how much individualspay in taxes each year. Property tax notices will be sent out laterthis year.

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Meanwhile, thanks to a reappraisal of county properties, overallproperty values will go up, Jinks said. The amount of revenuepreviously brought into the city with a millage rate of 35.24 couldnow be generated by a millage rate of 32.08.

“While the value of the millage went up, the actual millage wentdown,” Jinks said, explaining that the millage has to be set togenerate a certain amount of income to cover the general fund,solid waste and debt services.

School tax levies went down as well, from 60.57 last year to59.29 this year, according to city figures, with the drop alsoshowing in bond issues.

Jinks said the minor raise in city millage would only bring in$130,000 more than the $3.3 million total the city collected inproperty taxes last year. Two million of that went to the generalfund, he said.

This year the general fund will increase about $216,000 overlast year, Jinks said, which is possible because some of the bondshave gone down. Therefore, the money can be shifted over to thegeneral fund.

With changes made at Thursday night’s board meeting, the city isshowing a $129,000 surplus that aldermen hope to build on in orderto possibly implement raises for city workers later in the fiscalyear.

Jinks said a mill for the city is lower than a mill in theschool district because it covers more land. He said the city’smill is $95,000, while the school district receives $138,900 permill.

“There’s so much area outside the city that’s taxed,” hesaid.

City figures show that four mills go to the area of solid waste,while 6.25 mills go to debt services. The other 23.08 belong to thegeneral fund, just like last year.

But also in the new year budget approved Thursday will be a $.50hike on each of the areas of water, sewer, and solid waste. Waterwill go up from $8.95 a month to $9.45, while sewer bills will risefrom $8.90 to $9.40. Solid waste will go up from $18.50 to $19.

Jinks said the hikes are because water, sewer and solid wasteare enterprise funds, and they have to be self-sustaining. Generalfund money cannot be used to upkeep any of those funds.