The total is a rise of about $1.62 million from the fiscal year 2014 budget, which ends June 30. A small tax increase is expected.
Commission Chairman Greg James said commissioners with the assistance of County Administrator Jim Bleckley and Debbie Jacobs, county clerk and chief financial officer, had gone through each line item in the budget and made cuts where they could.
Despite the budget increase, commissioners will not be able to determine a millage rate for county residents until the 2014 tax digest is released at the end of June or early July.
During the last budget meeting, Jacobs said should the tax digest remain unchanged she predicted a millage rate increase from 8.17 to 8.91 mils. This translates to an increase of $29.60 increase on a tax bill for piece of property worth $100,000.
About five people attended the hearing and only two addressed commissioners about their concerns.
Charlie Brundage, president of the West Rabun Property Owners, expressed his displeasure with the way individuals leasing lake lots from Georgia Power were taxed. Brundage said that while the power company has the legal ability to appeal the value of its property, lessees did not.
Brundage added that commissioners should keep in mind Georgia Power’s current appeal on the value of its lake lots and the effect it had on the county’s ability to collect the predicted amount of property taxes in a given year.
Activist Cherie Faircloth questioned commissioners about how they planned on paying for the Rabun Business Park should the building remain largely unoccupied.
Jacobs said commissioners planned to make payments on the bond note using money from the county’s fund balance for fiscal year 2015.
Faircloth also said she was concerned that if the county was not able to make more than the minimum payments, it could end up costing taxpayers $26.8 million, including $10.8 million in interest.
James said he was grateful for the dedication Bleckley and Jacobs had shown throughout the process. He added that he appreciated the prudence department heads had shown in submitting conservative budgets.