By Nick Nunn

Staff Writer

Last week, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) held two public meetings on a proposed 2013 millage rate increase. At a special called meeting on July 23, the BOC adopted the tax increase, which raised the millage rate by an additional .242 mills for a total millage rate of 9.49 for 2013.

During the two public hearings, which were held at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on July 16, the commissioners discussed the proposed tax increase, which, according to the BOC’s notice, will increase the taxes on a home with a fair market value of $157,000 approximately $16.84.

BOC Chair Ellen Warren described the hearings as “painful,” citing them as her first hearings to increase property taxes during her eight years on the board.

“This is the first time I’ve had to do this, and I hate it,” stated Warren during the first meeting on July 16.

“While we don’t want to raise anyone’s taxes,” continued Warren, “it has become a necessity this year. We are ever-cognizant of the burdens we put on taxpayers.”

Nevertheless, Warren stated that the increase is felt to be necessity, since they are nearing the point where they would start having to reduce county services otherwise.

“I feel we are cutting into the bone,” said Warren.

District Five Commissioner Ron Milton supported Warren’s conclusion, stating that, “to get by with half a mil increase is still to keep it at a low level.”

Warren also made sure to thank County Manager Michael Lamar for the “hours of hard work” that he put into the proposed tax increase.

“You’ve done a lot of work on our behalf,” said Warren to Lamar.

There were no public comments during the special called meeting on Tuesday before the vote to adopt the tax increase.

Council Member Donald Harris made a motion to adopt the resolution to levy taxes for the fiscal year 2014, Council Member Phillip Clack seconded the motion and the vote in favor of acceptance was unanimous.