The proposed millage rate for the county’s fiscal year 2012 would have increased the current rate of 10.281 mills to 10.791 mills. County officials have stated that the increase would be used merely as padding for revenue lost due to decreased property values, which totals a 14 percent decline in revenue for the county.
However, several commissioners at the meeting said the onus should not fall on county residents; rather the government should be tasked with streamlining its operations to brace for the shortfall.
“We have to do some additional belt squeezing,” Chairman John Eaves said. “This commission had passed on to the county manager back in early spring some recommendations and areas we can look at some possible inefficiencies that can be addressed in the health system and the criminal justice system.
“I want to ask the county manager to bring those back to us at the next meeting.”
District 5 Commissioner Emma Darnell agreed there is inefficiency to address.
“People in District 5 from Bankhead to Buckhead believe it is unfair that they should have the burden of supporting … regional programs,” she said in reference to MARTA. “They believe it is unfair for the residents of Fulton County to have responsibility for a regional program like MARTA, with no support from any of the counties that are connected with the MARTA system.
“I am hopeful as we proceed to make decisions about taxes that we take into consideration that people in this county are subsidizing some of the most expensive programs we provide and that includes the Grady Health System.”
Darnell said with the state of the economy, it would be unfair to raise taxes on residents.
“Any progressive and humane government would not support a millage tax increase this year,” she said.
Other millage rates were also voted on, whether to remain the same for 2012 or to increase.
The South Fulton Special Services millage rate was increased from 8.969 to 10.469. The increase passed 5-1. The lone dissenter was District 3 Commissioner Liz Hausmann.
The bond fund millage rate unanimously passed 7-0 to stay the same at .27 mills, and commissioners voted 6-0 to keep the school board rate the same 18.502 mills. District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe did not vote.