VALDOSTA -- Valdosta residents will see a decrease in their millage rate this year, as the city adopted a rollback in a special called meeting on Friday.

The City Council unanimously adopted a resolution for the decrease. City finance director Mark Barber stated that the millage will rollback due to an increase in revenues from both real growth due to new construction and inflationary growth due to reassessments.

"If we kept the millage rate the same as it is now, it would still be considered a tax increase and we would have to advertise and hold public hearings," Barber said. Mayor John Fretti interjected that this would have been considered a "back door" tax increase.

The rate will be lowered from 4.48 to 4.41 mills.

In a statement, Fretti said, "No other city our size in Georgia can claim having lower taxes than Valdosta, and we are proud of that fact."

City Manager Larry Hanson said the taxes on a $150,000 house would break down as follows: $238 to the city (15 percent); $809 to the school system (53 percent); $478 to Lowndes County (31 percent) and 1 percent, or $14, to the State of Georgia.

"Due to the recent millage increase by the school system, city residents total tax bill will be higher, but their city portion will either remain the same or be lower," he said.

According to Hanson, the city's millage rate is at its lowest since 1989 and has only been lower seven times in 30 years. The rate was 6.25 mills in 1995, and has been lowered consistently over the last 11 years.

Fretti said the city's growth and economy have increased the revenues the city collects, decreasing their dependence on property taxes. "With the city of Valdosta continuing to grow as the regional and retail center of a 10 county area, we will continue to be able to rely upon sales revenue to augment our budgetary needs," Fretti stated.

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