The Temple City Council will in October seek to levy a tax millage rate of 6.5 on city property owners, an amount that will have the effect of raising no extra revenues for the city.
The council voted 3-1 to advertise the millage during a special called meeting Monday evening. Council members Howard Walden, Richard Bracknell and Todd Rothwell voted in favor; councilman Bill Simmons was opposed.
State law requires an approved millage rate to be advertised for a certain length of time in the county’s legal organ before council meets to officially adopt a rate.
The council will vote to set the millage at their next regular monthly meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 3. The council had scheduled a special called meeting on Sept. 29 for that purpose, but a computer error resulted in missing information about the millage being published in the Times-Georgian newspaper, so city officials decided to reschedule the millage vote for the later date. City Administrator Bill Osborne said on Thursday that the Sept. 29 meeting would still take place, so that council can act on a matter unrelated to the millage that had already been placed on the agenda.
Villa Rica financial officers, who have contracted with Temple to plan their budgets, say the 6.5 mill rate is the minimum required to ensure the city earns enough revenues to meet its current budgetary needs.
A previous plan to set a millage of 6.574 collapsed on Sept. 12, when the council split 2-1 on the proposal. The council that evening had only a quorum of three council members present, meaning that any measure would require all three council members to vote the same way.
The 6.574 rate would have raised $4,353 in additional revenues for the city. During Monday’s meeting, City Administrator Bill Osborne told the council that the new 6.5 rate would have the result of raising “essentially the same amount” as was collected last year.
In advance of the Sept. 12 meeting, the council had held three public meetings as required by law on the 6.574 rate. But because the city is now advertising a lower rate, Osborne told council members that state Department of Revenue officials have said no additional public hearings are required.
The council must set a millage rate so that tax collections can begin. Temple bases its fiscal year on the calendar year. Because property taxes are not collected until the end of that year, city officials have been spending money for its current budget in anticipation of collecting revenues at the end of the 12-month period.
That process had already been complicated this year by the fact that Carroll County did a reassessment of residential property values in the county. Because a number of property owners then appealed those valuations, it has caused a delay in the county completing a tax digest, which is a computation of the taxable value of such properties in the county. The tax digest number is needed to determine the tax rate (millage) each property owner must pay to generate revenues for the city budget.
The actual value of that tax digest is still undetermined, and won’t be resolved until the last appeal is decided, at which point the digest value will be adjusted accordingly. In the meantime, city officials are basing their calculations on preliminary digest figures.