At a called meeting held on June 27, 2013, the Butts County Board of Commissioners passed the fiscal year 2014 budget by unanimous consent of the members present. The budget was compiled and presented to the Board by County Administrator Michael Brewer at a public hearing held last week which called for a reduced budget and an additional quarter of a mil reduction, the third year in a row the County has lowered its millage rate. With the public hearing concluded, the Board met on Thursday evening to pass the final version and set the millage rate.
The General Fund budget, which is the budget used to operate the County government on a day-to-day basis, was approved at $17,968,557.00, a decrease of $176,036.00 over the previous budget year. They also approved some $1,815,710.00 in special fund budgets, which are specific purpose revenue accounts such as E-911, SPLOST, Jail and Courthouse funds. The budget was approved by a 4-0 vote.
The Board convened a second called meeting afterwards to accept and approve the County millage rate. The millage rate, currently at 14.413 mils will be reduced to 14.163 mils, a reduction of one-quarter of a mil. Last year, the board dropped the millage rate by 2.5 mils from 16.913 mils and the year before that, the board dropped the millage rate by one half of a mil, down from 17.413 mils. This marks the third straight year that the board has dropped the millage rate for a total decrease of 3.25 mils. The last time the County millage rate was less than 14 mils was in 1994 and in the past 19 years, it has only been lower than the new millage rate one year.
Commissioner Gator Hodges, who serves as Board Chairman this year, stated that “I appreciate all of the efforts that Mr. Brewer and the staff, as well as Ms. Washington, our Tax Commissioner and Mr. McKeehan, our Chief Appraiser, have put into this budget process. I am also very appreciative of our elected officials and department heads who either made significant cuts in spending or held the line on spending in their departments. This is the third year in a row that we have been able to reduce spending and lower the millage rate in Butts County. Looking back over the history of the mil since 1975, that has not been done in at least 40 years. It shows what is possible when everyone works together and while it is helpful in the short run, it can pay even larger dividends in the long run”.
“Being able to lower our millage rate makes us much more competitive with other counties” Brewer added. “If that helps us attract even one solid industry, that in turn could help us lower taxes even more, which can attract more industry. It’s really a positive cycle but one that we have to ‘jump start’ where we can to get the cycle moving”.
Vice Chairman Robert Henderson also indicated his satisfaction with the passed budget. “Anytime we can put money, even a little bit, back into the taxpayer’s pockets, we are helping the people who live here” he stated. “People have been hit hard by the economy and its good that we can help when we are able to”.
Following the passage of the budget and the county millage rate, the Board convened in a final third meeting where they accepted the millage from the Butts County Board of Education. They then voted to approve the total mil rate, which combines the County, State and School Board millage, of 33.313 mils. Tax Commissioner Nancy Washington and Chief Appraiser Charles McKeehan will deliver the FY 2014 Tax Digest on Monday to the Department of Revenue so that the new budget can be implemented on schedule.