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Fayette County to tap reserves to balance budget

Fayette County government is poised to eat a $2.76 million decline in property taxes due to decreased valuations, largely by taking $2.8 million from the county’s unrestricted cash reserves.

At Thursday night’s county commission meeting, the commission is expected to keep the same property tax millage rate for its general fund, EMS and E-911 services, though a hike is in the offing for the fire tax rate.

The fire tax increase won’t affect homeowners in Peachtree City or Fayetteville which have their own fire departments funded by each city’s budgets. It will affect property owners in Tyrone, Brooks, Woolsey and unincorporated Fayette County, all of which are served by the county’s fire department.

For a homeowner with a home valued at $250,000, they would pay another $50 a year for fire services under the proposed millage increase. But if a $250,000 home had its value decrease by the average drop in values to $218,000, the homeowner would realize a $10 increase on his yearly tax bill, county officials have said.

The commission is expected to adopt the millage rate at its regular meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Stonewall government complex in downtown Fayetteville.

The increase is deemed necessary to avoid layoffs of fire personnel which would result in a service cut, county officials have said previously.

The increase will balance a $750,000 shortfall that was projected had the fire tax rate remained the same, county officials said.

Taking the $2.8 million from cash reserves still leaves the county with $10 million in unrestricted cash reserves along with an additional $2 million “emergency” fund and three additional months’ worth of operating expenses.

The commission will also hear a request to rezone a .93-acre lot on Senoia Road from agriculture reserve to commercial to allow an auto service and repair garage.

The county planning commission has recommended the rezoning of 349 Senoia Road be approved since it is in concert with the county’s comprehensive plan and also with the surrounding area.

Three of the four properties adjoining the site already have commercial uses, and the other has an industrial use.

The plans are to build a two-bay auto repair shop that would cater especially to import vehicles, according to a proposal submitted to the county by property owners James L. and Maria Dixon.

The property has 125 feet along Senoia Road, which is the former alignment of Ga. Highway 74, and would be required to donate 50 feet of right of way to the county along that road as a condition of the rezoning approval that was recommended by the planning commission.

Another condition is that a setback variance should be sought for the existing home on the site since it does not meet the county’s current setback rules for residential or commercial property.

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