Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 11, 2014

City discusses budget; proposes tax increase

VALDOSTA — The City of Valdosta hosted the first night of two public hearings Tuesday to discuss the 2015 Fiscal Year budget, but only allowed questions from the public at the beginning of the meeting.

City Manager Larry Hanson opened the meeting and stood before the Valdosta City Council and said, “This budget is balanced, and it does anticipate a property tax increase. We will talk about that the next two nights depending on the conversations with you (the council) and the decisions we make.”

The Tuesday night hearing reviewed the city's enterprise funds, which are departments that fund themselves, such as: Sanitation, Mathis Auditorium, Public Works, Waste Water and Water Treatment, Community Protection (i.e. marshals), Planning and Zoning, Inspections, Information Technology, Neighborhood Development, and Public Involvement.

All of these departments are faring well, except for the Inspections Department.

“All of the enterprise funds are all doing OK with the exception of the Inspections Department,” Hanson said. “It's very cyclical and it's based on economy, and what's going on in the building industry, which has been down. But we're hopeful that this will be the year that we'll see some projects that we've been working on.”

The inspections department recommended revenue for 2015FY is $750,500, but its expenditures total $997,029.

Tonight, the second public hearing will focus on the general fund. This is significant because property tax goes into the general fund. At the beginning of the meeting, the public will be able to ask questions of the council.

The possibility of raising the millage rate, which is a tax increase, may be discussed.

The City of Valdosta has operated without raising the millage rate since 1992. The city has lowered the millage rate 12 times in the last 18 years.

Valdosta's millage rate currently stands at 4.102. In 1992, it was raised to 6.25. The city faces declining revenues.

The Local Options Sales Tax (LOST) is expected to bring in $800,000 less than the city budgeted.

The low millage rate coupled with declining revenues are two of the main reasons why the city proposes a millage increase.

“We're going to present them (the City Council) some scenarios (tonight) to get the feedback and that's why I said earlier that the budget is going to have a recommended tax increase, but it's really up to them to decide what to do,” Hanson said.

The city's second budget public hearing begins 5:30 p.m. today, Valdosta City Hall. More information: Call the City of Valdosta, (229) 259-3548.


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