During a forum hosted by Hall County GOP on Saturday, commissioners took opposing views on a potential property tax increase that could generate $1.6 million in revenue for the general fund.
Chairman Richard Mecum said he felt the extra revenue could be put to good use.
“I could take that $1.6 million and begin to straighten out this county,” Mecum said.
Commissioner Jeff Stowe disagreed.
“Does (the tax increase) solve our problems? No ... we can make due with the rollback and continue to operate very efficiently,” Stowe said.
Stowe is in favor of a rollback of the millage rate, which would account for increases in revenue from reassessments of commercial, industrial and residential properties.
Hall County properties are assessed at 40 percent of their value for tax purposes, and 1 mill equals $1,000 of assessed value.
The property tax millage rate must be rolled back to 5.735 to remain budget neutral, but the Board of Commissioners has left open the option of keeping the tax rate in place at 5.989, which amounts to a tax increase under state law and would generate the estimated $1.6 million.
With a full rollback, the projected revenue for the general fund is $92,179,874, while maintaining the current tax rate would produce an estimated $93,828,878.
Mecum was adamant Saturday about maintaining the current rate.
“I will not vote to roll back a tax and put this county in further financial difficulty,” Mecum said. “It is time for us to get this county in order financially.”
Prior to the open forum, Hall County GOP released a statement urging commissioners to roll back the millage rate “to avoid increasing taxes.”
Other commissioners in attendance at the event included Kathy Cooper and Scott Gibbs.
Public hearings on the budget are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. June 18; 4 p.m. June 22; and 6 p.m. June 25. Following the three public hearings, the commision could finalize a budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1.