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Gainesville asks residents for input on tax increase
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Tax rate change
What: Share your thoughts on proposed tax increase for Gainesville residents
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville

The city of Gainesville will offer its residents three opportunities to share their thoughts on a proposed tax increase, starting at 6 p.m. today at the Georgia Mountains Center.

The city is looking to levy 2.5 percent more taxes this year to help boost its upcoming operating budget.

Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard said the millage rate increased because the value of the taxable property dropped over the last year.

“The millage rate is based on your budget that’s established on an annual basis, and then it’s based on your tax digest, which is the value of all property within the city,” Sheppard said. “As both of those numbers fluctuate, so does your millage rate.”

State law allows local governments to adjust their millage rates if the value of the tax digest changes so the revenue collected is equal to the previous year’s. If an adjustment in either the millage rate or tax digest surpasses the previous year’s revenue, the government must advertise it as a tax increase.

Beverly Williams, financial services manager for Gainesville, said this year, the city’s tax digest decreased.

“We balance it back to where the revenue would be the same as the previous year and we determine what the millage rate would be for that,” Williams said. “It wasn’t enough.”

The proposed increase would bump the millage rate up to 0.26, which means $26 tax dollars for every $100,000 of property.

The millage rate was increased past last year’s mark in order to support additional firefighters.

“The city has hired 18 additional firefighters through a federal grant,” Sheppard said. “When you hire firefighters, you can’t go out and hire one or two. You have to hire basically a whole team.

“The federal government has come up with grants that help local governments hire firefighters.”

The federal government will provide a portion of the salary for the fighters and the city will fund the remainder of the firefighters’ salary with tax dollars.

Sheppard said the tax increase was necessary in spite of a number of cost-saving measures the city has implemented over the last few years.

“So many revenues on so many levels continue to decline,” Sheppard said.

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