Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil sets FY18 mill­age rate

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - JACKIE GUTKNECHT jgutknecht@cov­news.com

The Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil voted to keep its 2017-2018 fis­cal year mill­age rate the same as the pre­vi­ous year at 7.654 mils in a called meet­ing Mon­day night.

The mill­age rate, which was ad­ver­tised in The Cov­ing­ton News: New­ton County’s le­gal or­gan, as a tax in­crease will re­sult in a $6.84 in­crease per $100,000 house be­cause of an in­crease in prop­erty tax as­sess­ments. The mill­age rate is, in fact, the same rate it was last year.

The city had the op­tion of ac­cept­ing the roll­back mill­age rate, which would have kept tax bills the same as the pre­vi­ous year, but would have ap­peared as a de­crease at 7.483 mils.

City Man­ager Leigh Anne Knight said the dif­fer­ence in rev­enue for the roll­back rate and the ap­proved rate is $107,365 for the city.

“I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth and back and forth on this,” Coun­cilmem­ber Josh McKelvey said. He said he at­tended a tax­a­tion class in the re­cent Ge­or­gia Mu­nic­i­pal As­so­ci­a­tion an­nual con­ven­tion and spoke with other of­fi­cials who pre­sented neg­a­tive opinions of the roll­back rate. Con­tin­u­ally go­ing with the roll­back rate caused them to im­ple­ment a larger tax in­crease down the line.

McKelvey said he is typ­i­cally against any sort of a tax in­crease.

Coun­cilmem­ber Chris Smith agreed with McKelvey and said the city needs to look at cut­ting spend­ing.

“That’s what I hear from more peo­ple, and I’m sure all of us do about we spend so much money in the city,” he said. “And al­though the mill­age rate is stay­ing the same, it is an in­crease in what peo­ple are

pay­ing tax-wise to the City of Cov­ing­ton.”

“As far as I’m con­cerned, and this is just my per­sonal opin­ion, we’re ac­tu­ally not in­creas­ing taxes,” Cov­ing­ton Mayor Ronnie John­ston said. “I am fully aware of what that same per­cent­age that we had last year ap­plied to the val­ues this years does in- crease some of the ex­penses, I un­der­stand that, but I’ve al­ways in my mind – at least as I’ve learned since 2012 as to move for­ward – is one of the ways for gov­ern­ment to le­git­i­mately in­crease their rev­enues with­out al­ways tak­ing it off the backs of tax­pay­ers was to in­crease the val­ues of their com­mu­ni­ties, which is kind of what hap­pened.

“So, to me it’s al­most like this is the way we should grow our base and make it more solid.”

Smith was the only op­pos­ing vote against the 7.654 rate.

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