County rolls back tax rate
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners was expected this week to roll back the annual millage rate to 8.35 mils for fiscal year (FY) 2009, down from 8.43 mils in fiscal year 2008.
“The millage rate is going down, below the rollback rate,” said County Manager Michael Lamar in an interview last Tuesday. “The rollback was not difficult to achieve, in light of the total reevaluation [of county property values] last year.”
The total county budget for FY09 is $14.7 million, up 2.84 percent from this year’s budget of $14.3 million.
The two biggest changes in the budget, according to Lamar, are an increase in the utilization of the county’s general fund balance, up in FY09 to $651,000 from $346,000 in FY08, and a fairly significant decrease of an expected $117,000 in revenue from non-business licenses and permits in FY09, due mainly to slowdowns in both residential and commercial construction.
The county’s largest departmental expenditures in FY09 are expected to be in roads and bridges ($1.7 million), law enforcement ($1.9 million) and healthcare ($1.2 million). Other top departments are jail operations ($991,000), solid waste and recycling ($880,000), the fire department ($571,000) and parks administration ($437,000).
In a millage rate comparison for other counties either near Morgan or of similar size, Lamar showed that a millage rate of 8.35 is about average. Butts County and Jones County, in 2006, had millage rates of 15.4 and 14.7, respectively; Greene, Jasper, Newton and Walton counties all had tax rates in excess of 10 mils.