ROSWELL, Ga. – Two Roswell councilmembers have taken issue with the city’s budget. They both opposed approving the city’s millage rate and abstained from approving the proposed $100 million fiscal year 2014 budget during their May 13 council meeting.
The millage rate issue has become contentious because the city has to advertise it as a tax increase, although city officials would deny it is such an increase. The city is paying off a portion of its debt, however instead of lowering the millage rate (tax rate), the city is moving the monies it would normally spend from debt service to the general fund.
The net payment residents will pay will remain the same, however state law requires it to be called a tax increase since the general fund millage rate will go up.
“It will have a negative effect on property owners,” said resident Lee Fleck.
He noted the millage rate increase comes less than a year after Roswell voters approved $14 million in bonds to pay for city projects.
“I object to the way we are doing it,” said Councilman Kent Igleheart. “My problem is we are taking funds that the public approved to go toward specific projects and now moving them to pay for expenses.”
With the general budget, Igleheart wanted to see the city cut 2.7 percent across the board.
“It is easy to cut the operating budget if you cut the level of services,” said Mayor Jere Wood.
He added that cuts across the board would impact police and fire services, which eat up a lot of the budget. Igleheart suggested making the cuts elsewhere. Councilwoman Betty Price agreed.
“The discussion is necessary,” Price said. “There is room to tighten our belt, and I would love for us to do that.”
The first reading of the budget was approved 4-2, with both Igleheart and Price abstaining. The first reading of the millage rate was approved 4-2. This was one of several meetings on the budget and millage rate. The next and final meeting on the budget will be May 29 at 7 p.m. The millage rate will have two more hearings – May 20 at 6:30 p.m. and a final approval May 29 at 7 p.m.