Stephens County Commissioners approve the county’s millage rate for this year.
Tuesday, county commissioners voted 3-2 to keep the county’s millage rate at 11.32 mills for another year.
Chairman Stanley London, and Commissioners Dean Scarborough and Harold Andrews voted for the millage rate, while Commissioners Dennis Bell and Debbie Whitlock voted against it.
Scarborough, who voted against the budget but for the millage rate, said he does not understand why Bell and Whitlock would vote for a budget based on this millage rate and then oppose the mill rate weeks later.
“I voted against the budget, but I have to vote for supporting the county government, so I have to vote for this particular millage rate because that is how we set the budget,” said Scarborough.
Whitlock said she is concerned about the county’s finances moving forward, noting that the county has used up much of its reserves to cover this year’s budget.
She told Scarborough if things do not change, commissioners are going to have to look at increasing the millage.
“I know what makes common sense to me,” said Whitlock. “When you are out of money and do not have any to spend, we got to come up with a way to get more money.”
“Or cut expenses,” interjected Scarborough.
“I think we are going to have to do both (raise the millage and cut expenses),” said Whitlock.
Bell agreed, telling Scarborough that he feels that the county cannot continue cutting without negatively impacting services.
“I am not one to harp on raising taxes or anything, but I am going to tell you if the people want the services, we cannot cut anything else,” said Bell.
“Oh, I think we can cut,” said Scarborough.
“What are you going to cut?” asked Bell. “That is my problem. We have cut and cut and cut. We cannot keep cutting.”
The county’s millage rate has remained at 11.32 mills since 2008.
However since 2008, Stephens County has seen its property tax digest decline each year.
Because of that decline in the digest, Stephens County will levy just under $6.9 million in total county taxes this year compared to the nearly $8 million in taxes the county levied in 2008. That is a drop of $1.1 million.
County tax bills will go out in mid-September.