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Chairman Smith flips on county tax increase

Two weeks after losing his bid for reelection, Fayette County Commission Chairman Jack Smith — who campaigned on his record of opposing countywide tax increases — has decided a tax hike might be a good idea after all.

Smith changed his position after being told by staff last week that if the commission doesn’t raise its millage rate, it will have to take about $461,000 out of cash reserves to balance the budget this year.

When that updated figure was presented at last week’s commission meeting, Chairman Jack Smith said it might be wise for the county to increase the millage rate to avoid the shortfall.

Smith pointed out that the county is expecting to take a hit on property taxes next year for commercial properties.

“It looks reasonable for us to take the middle ground and at least run at net zero for this year instead of a deficit,” Smith said.

Doing so would “protect” the board from having to enact a significant property tax hike if the property tax decline continues, he added.

That would be a significant turnaround because up until now, and before the election, the commission seemed to have settled on absorbing the $461,000 blow by using cash reserves.

County Manager Jack Krakeel noted that between the county tax assessors department, the county board of equalization and others in the real estate industry, the general consensus is that next year the property values won’t decline as much as they did last year.

While there was an 8 percent decline in property values last year, the estimates for this year are around a 5 to 6 percent drop, Krakeel said, “barring any additional downturn in the economy which obviously could have a significant impact on that.”

Finance Director Mary Holland also noted that the county is seeing a higher rate of unpaid tax bills than normal. Three years ago the county averaged $700,000 of tax bills that had to be collected past the due date. This year that figure has reached $1.4 million, she said.

The $461,000 shortfall is blamed on the lowered property values across the county resulting in a net reduction of 8 percent in the county’s tax digest.

Beyond Smith, the other two commissioners present at the meeting, Herb Frady and Lee Hearn, didn’t indicate whether they would support a millage rate increase.

The commission is slated to make a decision on the millage rate by its regular meeting Aug. 26.



grassroots's picture

Spoken like a true democrat Mr Smith. Try Clayton County next primary.

Bitter road building taxing government politician. This is why we voted you out!

grassroots's picture

Let's just tax them before they foreclose. Then banks will still pay. I am Mr Smith and I have no solutions. Just tax increases. Follow me to Washington D,C.
See our biggest problem facing Fayette County at
Somebody tell Don Haddix too. Foreclosures. What Foreclosures?

ginga1414's picture

Isn't it amazing? Before the election, Jack Smith said no increase in taxes. And just a mere two weeks after the election, he says he will have to raise taxes.

We've all been waiting to see what he really had in store for us. Now, we know.

The man is absolutely transparent.

Can't wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.

But, but there were new circumstances he didn't understand before!!
He also hears that we have a recession of which he didn't know.

MajorMike's picture

It's payback time.

There have been some very good blogs entries about redirecting WFB splost funds to other splost projects. I must wonder if some of those other projects are currently funded from the general budget and we could achieve some savings in this manner. Don't know, just asking.

Figures Lie, and Liars Figure......nothing new here! Just wait until you discover how good Jack Smiths Accounting Skills are when the true cost of the DEFINED BENEFIT PLAN he and the other 4 mathematicians saddled you and your kids with.....thanks Jack! May I have another?

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