With a continued revenue shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners has proposed a 32.96% property tax rate increase.
Residents will have a chance to voice their concerns over the proposed tax increase at virtual meetings to be held on Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Aug. 26 at 10 a.m. The tax rate will be adopted after the final public hearing Aug. 26.
Citizens are required to pre-register to speak via Microsoft Teams with County Clerk Lisa Watson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or voicemail at 770-920-7416 by noon one day prior to the public hearing.
“We know revenue loss is substantial,” District 3 Commissioner Tarenia Carthan said during a called virtual meeting Thursday to discus the county’s C.A.R.E.S. Act funding.
The county can recoup about $5.5 million through the federal government’s stimulus package for the funds it spent on its COVID-19 responses.
However, the reimbursement can’t be applied towards its general operating budget.
“We are collecting only about 40% of our revenue,” District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guider said. “The revenue stream is down. I’m not in favor of this tax hike. I didn’t vote for this budget.”
District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell shared similar thoughts and said other cost-cutting measures are on the table such as employee furloughs and a hiring freeze.
“We can’t put all this on the backs of the citizens,” Mitchell said. “Everybody must bear this burden. It will be a tough, tough conversation. Everybody has some skin in this game.”
Guider said the BOC should go back to the county government’s department leaders and ask them to make more cuts before adopting the tax hike.
“We have to start at the top with us,” Guider said. “We should take things out that are non-essential. We should cut it down to the bone. I’m sure everyone can find two to three% they can cut. We have to work together on this.”