By Nick Nunn
Last Thursday, during a called meeting by the City of Madison Mayor and Council, the council members voted to adopt millage rates for the City of Madison and special taxes for the downtown and corridor districts. The council unanimously voted to approve the rollback millage rates of 6.565 for the City of Madison, 1.464 for the downtown district, and 1.432 for the corridor. The taxes for the downtown and corridor districts are special taxes, which are levied in addition to the standard millage rate in those specific districts.
Eric Joyce, a citizen of Madison, spoke to the council about his concerns with the lack of a connection between property values and millage rates during the section of the meeting that was open for public comments.
Joyce noted that, although property values have decreased by a third, tax revenue has increased by 25 percent, creating the appearance that there is no firm connection between property values and millage rates. “
I lament the loss in connection between what I pay and what my house is worth,” said Joyce to the council. The council informed Joyce that the current tax digest and general fund budget directly factor into the millage rate. Further clarification stated that the millage rate involves how much tax revenue the city needs to make in order for the general fund to be able to function according to the budget.
Mayor Bruce Gilbert acknowledged the budget’s role in the millage rate, telling Joyce that he should “keep an eye on what [the city] spends, for sure.”
Council Member Joe DiLetto stated that, while his taxes “haven’t gone up in a while,” it is hard to figure out the effects that tax changes are going to affect each individual. However, DiLetto expressed interest in making a concerted effort to take steps toward being able to develop a 2015 budget that creates reductions in the expenditures and, thus, “doing something meaningful and reducing taxes.” Council Member Michael Naples also mentioned the job that the Board of Education has been able to do, despite funding cuts by the state legislature over the last few years.
“I don’t blame the Morgan County school board here,” began Naples, “We have lost $13,000,000 in funding since either ’02 or ’05. There is a war on public education here in Georgia.”
Naples also commended the City of Madison, and its ability to fund services that keep Madison looking beautiful.
“This is what makes Madison different,” said Naples. “Anyone who comes through this town sees how spic and span we are.”
DiLetto, after discussing compliments that he has received by visitors concerning the layout of the corridor in Madison, stated that the low taxes levied in those areas create an ideal place for business owners, which, in turn, creates an “opportunity without hurting the public any.”