The Covington News - - Front page -

“The bud­get is not fat is ba­si­cally what I’m try­ing to say,” Thom­son said.

Thom­son said each mill in­crease over the roll­back rate gen­er­ates around $17,000 more a year. His ini­tial pre­sen­ta­tion was for a 2 mill in­crease, which he said would cost the av­er­age home­owner $2 to $5 ex­tra a month.

Coun­cil­man Robert Fox­worth asked what 3 and 4 mill in­creases would look like be­cause he and other coun­cil mem­bers want the city to pay 80 per­cent of em­ploy­ees’ health ben­e­fit premi­ums rather than the 60 per­cent they cur­rently pay as well as be able to hire more po­lice of­fi­cers.

Thom­son pre­sented the coun­cil with a cross sec­tion of real as­sessed val­ues of homes in Por­terdale so they could see the im­pact of in­creased mill­age rates on home­own­ers. A home on Ma­gan Court with an as­sessed value of $36,467, on the high end for Por­terdale, would pay $145.87 more than last year at a 4 mill in­crease. A home on Ivy Street with a low-end as­sessed value of $10,485 would see a $38.16 in­crease over last year’s bill.

“A tax in­crease com­pared to the cost of a car­ton of cig­a­rettes is not that bad,” said Low­ell Cham­bers, coun­cil­man.

Thom­son said the coun­cil should be mind­ful of other in­creases, such as in­creased whole­sale wa­ter rates the city will have to pass along, that res­i­dents will have to bear as well.

Mayor Bobby Hamby in­formed the coun­cil that Gov. Sonny Per­due had ap­proved the coun­cil’s mea­sure to im­ple­ment a city­wide Homestead Tax Ex­emp­tion that will vir­tu­ally erase any in­creases for pri­mary home­own­ers. The ex­emp­tion will have to be put on a ref­er­en­dum and voted on by the cit­i­zens of the town some­time later this year.

Coun­cil­man Mike Harper said the coun­cil needed to con­sider se­ri­ously an ac­tual tax in­crease be­cause econ­omy pro­jec­tions across the coun­try re­main bleak.

“Don’t raise it just enough to get by,” Harper said, “or we’ll have to do this again next year.”

Coun­cil­man Robert Fox­worth agreed adding that ev­ery­one needed to pitch in if they wanted their level of ser­vice to be main­tained or im­proved. The coun­cil reached a con­sen­sus that a 4 mill in­crease would be ad­ver­tised in The News, the county’s le­gal or­gan.

“It’s not five mem­bers of the coun­cil that are ben­e­fit­ing,” said Cham­bers. “It’s the work­ers, the garbage col­lec­tors and po­lice of­fi­cers.”

The coun­cil will hold three pub­lic hear­ings and ap­prove the mill­age rate at their July 12 meet­ing.

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