The 5-1 vote on the city budget saw Councilwoman LaShun Danley cast the only “nay.” Mayor Pro Tem Larry Yockey was absent.
According to Douglasville City Manager Bill Osborne, the one-mill tax hike from 3.853 mills to 4.853 mills will generate an additional $943,000 in property tax revenue to fund the $23.6 million budget.
“Although Douglasville’s city property tax revenue, which had dropped due to the recession, is now showing a slow recovery, our sales tax revenue has also declined, showing a budget deficit last year of $1.6 million,” he said.
Danley said she voted against the budget because there were “other entities” the city could have considered before increasing the millage rate.
However, she did not specify the entities.
“There has been much discussion on the budget so far, but we don’t currently know where we stand with regard to the service delivery strategy with Douglas County,” Danley said, referring to a plan in negotiation which could add an additional 1.86 mills to the approved increase.
Councilman Mike Miller, who made the motion to adopt the city budget, said he has never been an advocate for raising taxes.
“However, it has been 15 years since there has been any rise in the millage rate,” he said. “Since that time, we have added residents and have added land, so I believe a one-mill increase is reasonable.”
Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons said the mayor and council, city manager and finance director are always working to ensure that funds are used wisely and that the city remains good stewards of tax money.
“This is the money that our citizens have entrusted to us so we can continue to offer exceptional services that our citizens not only expect, but deserve,” he said.
Persons said the city budget, like that of many of its residents, is tight and the city has to remain frugal in its spending.
“The city tax digest has declined more than $200 million since 2008,” he said.
“As a result, the city has cut more that $1.2 million in expenses to offset the reduction in the tax digest. We hope that the economy will turn around and help our revenues go back up.”
Persons said he would gladly go over the city financial books with any resident who may have a question regarding the need for the one-mill increase.
“The city’s business is our citizens’ business and our city remains transparent in all our actions, including our revenues and expenses,” he said.
The increase does not include an additional 1.86-mill delivery service strategy increase officials said the city will need to pay Douglas County for providing fire and animal control services to Douglasville.
The two governments have been negotiating the increase for months.