“We have experienced a decline in tax digest levy since 2008 of more than $1 million,” Parker said. “Our millage rate has declined to the tenth lowest in the state at 5.80 mills.
“We just don’t have the commercial/industrial tax base or retail base to justify being that low and still be able to balance our budget.”
The budget this year for Murray County was set at $15,732,000.
“We’ve had to provide some financial assistance to the hospital this year. We’re working on a plan to stablize their financial standing in the future so they can operate on their own.”
Parker said that the county had given the Murray Medical Center approximately $850,000 this year. The city of Chatsworth also provided funding to the hospital this year. Parker said that the county did not budget for those funds in this year’s fiscal budget and that the hospital would probably receive funding again next year but hopefully not as much.
“We budget about $500,000 every year to the hospital to help pay for indigent care,” Parker said. “Out of the current SPLOST, half a million dollars a year is budgeted for for capital purchases and debt repayment.
“We are going to exceed our budget that we set this year because of the hospital loan, even if everything else comes in budget.”
Parker explained that the county has signed a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) and established a line of credit up to $2 million with First National Bank. There was a bid process for that purpose and First National Bank submitted the winning bid with an interest rate of 1.8 percent.
“We borrowed half a million dollars last week and we will probably need to borrow another half a million dollars this week,” Parker said.
“State law requires us to pay that money back by December 31st. Ms. Pittman is proposing that the millage rate be increased by 1.47 mills which is the way we have to advertise it for incorporated and and unincirporated areas.
“Both areas will increase by 1.47 mills, which is a 24.91 percent cent increase for county residents. For city residents, it will be a 7.389 mills or a 24.69 percent increase.”
Parker said the difference is because of the insurance premium tax collected by the state insurance commissioner from taxes paid on property and life insurance. Both the city and the county receive a portion of those funds.
“The county is required to use that money for services intended primarily for services for county residents such as garabge collection sites and emergency services,” Parker said. “After we pay for those services that are for the use of county residents,
anything left of that insurance premium tax we are required to roll that back from the millage rate for county property.
“The increase would generate $1,030,000 in revenues based on 100 percent collections. The insurance premium tax received this year was $1,598,000.”
Parker said that for a property valued at $100,000 the increase would amount to $58.80 for a home without a homestead exemption and $55.86 with a homestead exemption.
Public hearings must be set by law due to the proposed increase and will be held Thursday, Aug. 28 at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the annex and Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. at the annex.
The millage rate will be set at a meeting immediately following the final public hearing.