The Butts County Board of Commissioners recently released the proposed FY2020 budget, which increased in revenue in the new budget year due to new revenue enhancements becoming available to the County from changes in state law governing host fees from private landfills, changes in Title Ad Valorem Tax revenues distributed by the state and rising values. This is being done while keeping the County millage rate at the low 12.209 mils that it has already been at for the past two years. The last time the County millage rate was below 12.209 mils was in the early 1990’s and it is currently the lowest millage rate in the seven-county region. The next lowest is Lamar County with a County millage rate of 12.621, while the highest is Spalding at 15.535. The other counties, which include Henry, Jasper, Monroe and Newton fall in between those two counties.
Even more remarkable is that the County millage rate was 17.413 mils just 10 years ago, and since 2010, the County has either reduced the millage rate or held it flat every year except 2015, when it rose by just $0.22 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. Additionally, during most of the recession and post-recession years, when property values were dropping, overall millage values were decreasing and taxpayer equity in homes was diminishing, the County chose not to raise taxes to compensate, relying instead on budgetary reductions and reserve funds to smooth the impact to its citizens. This current year, even with property values on the rise again for the first time in a decade, the County has chosen to hold the millage rate at the same 26 year low as last year and the year before that.
Even more encouraging is news that the Board of Education plans to reduce their millage rate this year to 15.960 mils, a 25 year low. This, combined with the County and Hospital Authority millage rate would place the total millage rate for Butts County at 29.169 mils, the first time the total millage rate has been under 30 mils since 1994.
The budget that was released last week addresses some long overdue enhancements to employee retirement, as well as a complete absorption of increased health insurance costs by the County so that employees are not severely impacted. These enhancements are being funded by revenues in the budget that are not associated with property taxes but with the aforementioned new or enhanced revenues from other sources.
The County will hold a series of hearings beginning Thursday, June 20th. A complete set of dates and times for these hearings on the millage rate and the budget are available from this website and from the Jackson Progress-Argus, the legal organ of Butts County.
The chart below shows the history of the millage rate in Butts County for the past 25 years.