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Hoschton wrestles with revenue, proposed property tax

POSTED: December 3, 2008 5:00 a.m.

HOSCHTON — Residents who attended Hoschton’s two public hearings last week urged City Council members to balance the budget, and most reiterated their strong opposition to any proposed city property tax.

Tension over the city’s budget talks also was driven by questions about whether two Hoschton police officers who recently resigned would be replaced.

The two meetings, which focused on the budget and millage rate, were held Nov. 20. The morning and evening sessions were the first of three state mandated public hearings in the city’s budget process.

There are currently two proposed budgets up for consideration by the council.

One is $785,560 and includes no city property tax, and the other is $950,279 with a city property tax of 3.25 mills.

As they had in the previous town hall meetings, several Hoschton residents stressed to council members their unwillingness to pay any property taxes.

Hoschton has not levied a city property tax in about 30 years.

"I don’t think anybody came here tonight because they’re interested in a possible millage rate increase," said Kelley Gary, a Hoschton resident. "I think we’re all opposed not only to a millage rate increase; we’re opposed to any property tax. And I hope y’all will take that into consideration and balance a budget that doesn’t include a property tax."

Other residents, including Bruce Nunley, said they would be unable to pay a property tax due to the economic downturn.

"I have three jobs and just the idea of having to pay more to live in Hoschton right now would be a problem for me," Nunley said. "Now if the economy turns around, I wouldn’t feel as serious about it as I am right now. But right now, it would be a hardship on my family."

Councilwoman Theresa Kenerly said if residents had to pay a tax, bills would not be sent out until the next time Jackson County sends out its property tax bills, which would be Dec. 20, 2009.

The council members spent two hours after each of Friday’s two hearings — one held in the morning and one in the evening — going over the city’s projected revenues and expenses, making adjustments to both.

The council will work on cutting expenses from the general budget at the next millage rate public hearing, set for 9 a.m. on Dec. 4 at the Hoschton Depot.

The council then will discuss the budget at its work session at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 and at its meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Both the work session and meeting will be held at the Hoschton Depot, instead of city hall.


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