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Oakwood is on track to maintain tax rate
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OAKWOOD — Oakwood City Council gave its first OK Monday night to a tax rate supporting the 2009 budget.

The rate, 2.48 mills, is staying the same, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. Property is assessed at 40 percent.

The council gave its approval after holding the third and final hearing on the rate. It is set to give its final OK on Monday.

The city had to hold the hearings because the rate is expected to raise more revenue than it did this year, thanks largely to commercial growth.

Also Monday night, City Manager Stan Brown presented the 2009 budget to City Council.

City officials are proposing nearly $3.2 million in general fund expenses, up $348,103 from the $2.8 million 2008 budget.

The biggest dollar increase is in the city’s police department, which is proposing $1.55 million in expenses, up nearly $250,000 from this year. The department wants to hire a full-time clerk and start up a K-9 unit.

The city is budgeting for $100,000 in revenue from Hall County’s 1-cent sales tax program, which ends in June, compared to $203,570 this year.

Voters will be asked in March to extend the program another five years. Brown said that if voters give their OK to the tax, he would present a budget amendment to the council to account for additional revenues.

The budget year begins Jan. 1. A public hearing on the budget is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 3. Final budget adoption is set for Nov. 10.

City Councilman Gary Anderson said he is concerned the sales-tax program extension might not pass. People are beginning to realize that while the sales tax may pay for new buildings, property taxes end up paying for the ongoing operations and staffing in those buildings, he said.

"There comes a time when (the sales-tax program) can bite you," he said. "... There’s a movement out there to get it defeated."

In other business, the council voted 5-0 to give its first OK to an ordinance eliminating minimum lot sizes for businesses where sewer is available.

Currently, businesses with sewer must sit on a lot that is at least 25,000 square feet, Brown said.

"I think the intent really is to make sure that if you don’t have sewer ... you’ve got enough lot area to provide for septic tanks (so) you can develop the lot," Brown said.

These days, "particularly with the price of land, there may be developments and businesses that could occupy on space less than 25,000 square feet when they have sewer."

Doing away with minimum lot sizes wouldn’t mean less city review, however. Businesses still would have to meet other requirements, such as setbacks and parking.

Businesses on septic must have a lot size of at least 40,000 square feet, according to the ordinance.

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