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All-Republican commission approves countywide tax hike

Fayette County residents and businesses will have a new tax on their property tax bills this year.

And they have the municipalities of Fayette County to thank, as the arrangement was brokered after the cities told county officials they no longer wanted to pay their portion of E-9-1-1 center expenses from their general funds.

The cost to a taxpayer with a $250,000 home will be $19.67 on this year’s tax bill, based on the millage rate being eventually set at .2 mills.

The new E-9-1-1 tax funds will be used to fund the county’s consolidated Emergency 9-1-1 center that serves all public safety agencies in the county and its cities.

At its July 28 meeting, the all-Republican Fayette County Commission voted to create the new tax district. The matter was previously approved by the city councils in Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Tyrone.

That means that all county properties, including those in Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Tyrone, Brooks and Woolsey, will see the new tax added to their bills this year.

The initial proposal is for the tax rate to be set at .2 mills this year, which will raise $991,439, according to County Finance Director Mary Holland.

The majority of the 9-1-1 center’s annual budget is paid for with revenues from the $1 and $1.50 E-9-1-1 surcharges on landline and cellular phone bills.

The remainder has been funded in previous years by contributions from Fayette County, Peachtree City, Tyrone and Fayetteville. Each city’s contribution was based on its population figures.

But last year the cities banded together and approached the county with allegations that the system amounted to double-taxing its residents since the county paid its portion for unincorporated residents from the general fund.

Under the agreement, the cities will continue to pay their pro-rata share for the following two years to help the county pay off about $2 million in financing that the county underwent to make capital improvements to the 9-1-1 system.

After those two years are up, the cities and the county will no longer be paying for the service through their general fund revenues. Which means if they do not then rollback their millage rate commensurately, they will get a property tax windfall.

The county has spent some $10 million in 2003 for a new 9-1-1 radio system, and it costs about $800,000 a year to maintain it, officials have said.

The agreement creates an E-9-1-1 communications board that will create policy and make fiscal recommendations to the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. The E-9-1-1 staff will remain county employees under the new funding mechanism.

Also, the county commission will be in charge of setting the millage rate every year.

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