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The Local Agenda: Hearing tonight on tax rates for city, schools
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Gainesville City Council meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Gainesville Justice Center, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

City of Gainesville residents will get a chance to approach the podium tonight to sound off on their property tax rates.

Two ordinances, one from the city of Gainesville government and one from Gainesville City Schools, will go to Gainesville City Council at the 5:30 p.m. meeting. There will also be a city government fiscal year 2013 budget presentation.

While City Council doesn’t craft the city school system’s budget, it is charged with passing its proposed property tax rate.

The proposed millage rate from the school system is 7.39 mills — the same rate as the fiscal year 2012.

Meanwhile, the city’s proposed rate would be 3.06 mills — which is a roll-up from the previous year’s rate.

Millage rate is the multiplier to determine what a property owner pays in taxes, with 1 mill equaling $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value.

While both governments are dealing with another year of decline in the tax digest, the two rates show the different philosophical approaches that City Council and the Gainesville School Board are taking to the budget.

Gainesville City Schools, which presented its fiscal year 2013 tentative budget on Monday night, is looking to make some difficult cuts to keep its tax rate the same.

The school system has been considering up to 10 furlough days and eliminating dozens of positions through attrition, nonrenewals and moving employees around.

While making some cuts of its own and delaying a few projects, City Council members have largely expressed an interest in maintaining a high level of service. To do that, council is poised to vote on a roll-up that would increase the millage rate by 0.14 mills. A roll-up aims to keep property tax revenues the same as the year before. So when property values go down, a roll-up raises the millage just enough to adjust for that decline.

Rather than reducing employee salaries through furloughs like the school district, the city government’s proposed budget offers a 3 percent cost-of-living increase to employees.

City Manager Kip Padgett said the proposed pay increase is one way the city is trying to hold on to qualified employees, many of them already trained at the taxpayers’ expense.

City Council to take vote on proposed shopping center

City Council also will vote on a proposed annexation that’s expected to lead to a new commercial development near New Holland Mill.

Property owner Pacolet Milliken Enterprises Inc. is looking to turn the 68-acre site off Limestone and Jesse Jewell parkways into a new shopping center.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan on Thursday when City Council reviewed the proposal at a work session meeting.

Dunagan and other City Council members have praised the proposed plans and the prospects for economic development.

Michael D. McNicholas, a spokesman for developer Carolina Holdings Inc., declined to offer the names of any businesses that have agreed to move into the proposed new center to The Times, but has indicated there was a commitment from an anchor store and discussions with others.

City officials had previously reported a Kroger Marketplace would be the anchor store.

If all goes according to plan, whichever anchor store comes in could open in February 2014, said McNicholas.

The annexation request considered tonight comes as part of an agreement between the property owner and the city of Gainesville to join the city sewer system.

When developers whose property is adjacent to the city limits seek sewer lines, it’s city policy to require annexation, said City Planning Manager Matt Tate.

Aaron Hale covers government issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: