City of Por­terdale poised to lower mil­lage rate

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

While other cities and New­ton County have raised their mil­lage rates, the Por­terdale City Coun­cil is ac­tu­ally plan­ning to lower its rate, a move it hopes will help coun­ter­act the wa­ter rate in­crease it had to im­ple­ment ear­lier this year.

The City Coun­cil is ex­pected to vote to lower its mil­lage rate – known col­lo­qui­ally as the prop­erty tax rate – from 19.892 to 19.392, based on a rec­om­men­da­tion from the city’s bud­get com­mit­tee, which said the city would still be in good fi­nan­cial shape de­spite a lower rate, City Clerk Me­gan Reid said last week.

The owner of a home val­ued at $20,000, not in­clud­ing a home­stead ex­emp- tion, would pay $159.13 in Por­terdale taxes cur­rently; that bill would be re­duced by $4 with the mil­lage rate re­duc­tion.

Por­terdale is an ex­cep­tion among lo­cal gov­ern­ments in see­ing its over­all prop­erty val­ues in­crease. The value of the city’s properties in­creased from $15.91 mil­lion to $16.19 mil­lion, the first in­crease since 2009. As with New­ton County and cities like Cov­ing­ton and Ox­ford, Por­terdale ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant de­clines in prop­erty val­ues since 2009, when to­tal val­ues were $29.78 mil­lion.

The city would col­lect $279,811 in taxes on prop­erty and ve­hi­cles if it didn’t change the rate, but the city was only bud­geted to col­lect $268,716 last year and did fine, Reid said. The city sig­nif­i­cantly raised its mil­lage rate in 2010 and again in 2011, but did not in­crease the rate last year.

City Man­ager Bob Thom­son said the city has taken a lot of cost-cut­ting mea­sures in the past cou­ple of years.

In ad­di­tion, Thom­son said the city’s col­lec­tion rates for its wa­ter and sewer bills are higher than in past years. The city strug­gled with un­paid wa­ter and sewer bills for years but in­creased its de­posits for cus­tomers with bad credit rat­ings.

Reid said the city has a good of­fice crew that doesn’t let bills get too far be­hind.

Ear­lier this year, the city was re­quired to pass 55cent in­creases to both its

wa­ter and sewer rates, in or­der to sat­isfy re­quire­ments for a U.S. Dept. of Agri­cul­ture loan for a sewer pro­ject.

The new rates for res­i­dents are $7.59 for 1,000 gal­lons of wa­ter and $8.12 for 1,000 gal­lons of sewer. The new rates for busi­nesses are $8.24 for 1,000 gal­lons of wa­ter and $8.83 for 1,000 gal­lons of sewer.

Reid said the city had also had a lot of real es­tate sales this year, in­clud­ing a few sales in which the properties were be­hind in taxes.

When a prop­erty has out­stand­ing prop­erty taxes, the city can place a tax lien on the prop­erty, which must be paid be­fore a prop­erty can be sold.

The coun­cil is ex­pected to vote on the mil­lage rate at its reg­u­larly sched­uled Aug. 5 meet­ing.

Por­terdale is on a cal­en­dar bud­get year, but still passes the mil­lage rate in the sum­mer af­ter re­ceiv­ing up­dated prop­erty val­ues from the New­ton County Tax As­ses­sor’s of­fice.

Por­terdale’s 2013 bud­get was $955,574 for its gen­eral fund, $624,758 for its wa­ter and sewer fund, and $113,156 for its san­i­ta­tion fund.

Through June 30, the city had al­ready col­lected $519,033 in gen­eral fund rev­enue, 55 per­cent of its to­tal bud­get.

photo courtesy of New­ton County Tax As­ses­sor’s web­site/The Cov­ing­ton News

This house in Por­terdale is worth $20,400, ac­cord­ing to the New­ton County Tax As­ses­sor’s web­site. Por­terdale’s pro­posed mil­lage rate re­duc­tion would save the home $4 in an­nual prop­erty taxes.

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