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City wants county millage reduction to offset payment for fire, animal control services
by Bill Baldowski
June 18, 2014 04:16 PM | 2391 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Douglasville City Council will ask Douglas County to continue to provide its fire and animal control services but wants city residents’ county tax rate dropped to offset the city tax increase needed to pay the county for the services, an official said.

This service delivery agreement between the two governmental entities, which was approved by the city council at its Monday night meeting, would increase the property tax rate paid by residents of Douglasville by 1.86 mills.

City Manager Bill Osborne said most of the increase, about 1.06 mills, would go for fire service with about a quarter of a mill going for animal control.

However, he said, the city would sign a new service delivery agreement with the county if overall county taxes for city residents were reduced by the same 1.86-mill increase brought about by the new service delivery agreement.

Osborne said the state requires a service delivery agreement between a county and its municipalities to specify which governmental entity would provide that service and how the service would be paid.

The current service delivery agreement between the county and the city expires June 30.

County Commissioner Henry Mitchell III said the details of a new service agreement were delivered to all county municipalities by County Administrator Eric Linton, “and the facts were laid out clearly” about the costs of delivering the services, he said.

“I am surprised as to what Douglasville is saying now about signing this agreement,” he said.

However, Mitchell said he believes an agreement can be reached.

“The only alternative is for Douglasville to provide its residents with their own city fire and animal control services, which is fine if the city decided to go in that direction,” said Mitchell, a former city councilman.

However, Osborne said not only did the council want the county to provide the services but the money did not exist for establishing city fire and animal control services because department budgets for the upcoming fiscal year had to be cut about $1.6 million.

“The county has told us they want each municipality to pay their proportionate share of the service delivery agreement based on the percentage of the county’s population living in that municipality,” he said.

Osborne said the city’s population represents 23.5 percent of the county population.

“If there is no reduction in county taxes paid by our residents to offset the additional taxes of a new delivery service agreement, it would essentially mean Douglasville property owners would be paying twice for these same services,” Osborne said.

The city has proposed a $23.6 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2014-2015.

The required public hearing for the new general fund budget is today at 6 p.m. in the Douglasville Conference Center.

The city budget comes up for a final vote June 25.

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