BALL GROUND — Ball Ground’s millage rate will remain at 6 mills, and since the 2013 tax digest fell slightly, residents will pay about 3 percent less in property tax this year, city officials said.
At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Rick Roberts said the city’s tax digest decreased slightly, but because of frugal spending, the millage rate can be held at 6 mills.
Roberts said although the digest fell this year, it didn’t fall as much as in previous years.
“We’re able to hold the tax rate as it is,” Roberts said. “I’m proud to say this city has weathered the recession much better than we ever really thought we would.”
City Councilman Lee Prettyman made the motion to adopt a rate of 6 mills, the same rate as last year, and Frank Homiller seconded.
The council voted unanimously to adopt millage rate, with Councilman Mickey O’Malley absent.
City Manager Eric Wilmarth said that holding the millage rate at 6 mills is equivalent to a tax decrease of about 3 percent, because of the decrease in the
property tax digest.
“What Ball Ground could’ve set its millage rate at, this year was 6.182, and that was considered the revenue neutral for no tax increase,” Wilmarth said. “Because it would’ve generated the same amount of dollars as 6 mills generated last year.”
The rate of 6 mills will generate less money than was generated in 2012, Wilmarth said.
“So it’s a tax decrease because we’re decreasing the amount of money we’re collecting,” he said.
If the tax digest increases next year, keeping the millage rate at 6 would mean increased taxes, Wilmarth said.
“Quite likely, next year, all indications are we’ll be back in an inflationary growth period. And next year when we run this same formula, if we are back in inflationary growth, leaving it at 6 mills would be a tax increase,” Wilmarth said. “If we set it at 6 (next year), we’ll have to make the advertisement that we’re raising taxes to leave it at 6, and have three public hearings to explain why we’re raising taxes.”
The council also voted unanimously to set Dec. 20 as the due date for city property taxes.
Truck route support
The council voted unanimously to request the support of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners to establish a truck route to remove heavy traffic from downtown Ball Ground.
According to the most recent traffic count, Wilmarth said that in one day, 1,500 trucks went through downtown, and there was total vehicle traffic of about 12,000 cars per day.
Roberts said the two-lane roads “were not built to state standards,” but were converted from local to state roads in the ’60s or ’70s.
“So the grades are too steep. … It’s not wide enough, the curves are too sharp and it’s hard enough for car traffic, for truck traffic it’s even more dangerous,” Roberts said.
While the city’s downtown area continues to improve, the area is “being held back” by heavy truck traffic, Roberts said.
“We don’t want to eliminate traffic because traffic is vital for commerce. But heavy truck traffic is detrimental, particularly the type of products being carried in the trucks,” Roberts said.
Wilmarth said another option that the city is considering would limit truck traffic in the downtown area to hours that aren’t in the peak time for pedestrian traffic.
Roberts said creating a truck route to detour heavy trucks from downtown would make the area safer, and is an important part to make downtown better and “entice additional business.”
If the truck route option is unsuccessful, Roberts said the next approach may be to request that the state remove the road from the state system
“If it’s not on the state system, we have the say of what passes and what doesn’t,” Roberts said.
Also on the agenda:
• The city unanimously approved transferring an acre to the Downtown Development Authority;
• Fire Chief Robert Dobbs was presented with a proclamation for Firefighter Appreciation Week;
• Mark Bennett and Wade Whitfield, members of the Young Marines, were presented a Red Ribbon Week proclamation; and
• Council passed a resolution to adopt a five-year update to the short-term work program.