As a result of the overall financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Ball Ground City Council had some discussion at its most recent meeting regarding potentially having to maintain or raise the city’s property tax millage rates.
“As I alluded to earlier, under our budget, we’ve got some uncertainty as far as expenses and revenues going forward due to this pandemic,” Mayor Rick Roberts said.
City Manager Eric Wilmarth said what the city will have to consider is that there are a handful of options the city can choose from, now that the base numbers from the latest tax digest have come back. According to Wilmarth, the city’s current millage rate is 4.707 mills, with the city considering bumping up the rate to an even 5 mills. When measuring this on a home valued at $200,000, he said this would result in a tax increase of $46 for the year. Should the rate be increased to this level, it was estimated the city would generate an additional $561,000 in revenue. Although this would essentially be a tax increase of approximately 13 percent, because Ball Ground lowered its tax rates by 27 percent during another economic situation, this would get the city back to a relatively level playing field compared to where it was in the past, officials said. At the same time, there are some changes being made to the city’s commercial tax base this year, with facilities such as the Universal Alloy building being phased in for inclusion.
While Roberts echoed the sentiment virtually all taxpayers share, that nobody wants to see an increase in the amount having to be paid, he said the city has the need to have the ability of building a contingency for the near future due to the pandemic-related uncertainty.
“If the council votes to set the millage rate at 5 mills, which would be a 13-percent increase, every one of us are going to be paying more taxes,” Roberts said. “It’s not like it’s something that we’re deciding to do because it doesn’t affect us. That’s not why we’re in our positions, it’s not about us. It’s about the benefit of the city and the financial long-term stability in a time that we really need to be trying to build some contingent funding.”
During additional discussion among the council members, one point Councilwoman Andrenia Stoner stressed was making sure the city considered the elderly and those on fixed incomes when making this decision. However, she and the other council members realized the logic behind considering raising the millage rate at this time. Building off of that, Roberts said that it might be possible the city could consider reversing this and lowering the millage rate some next year if things are more stable.
With Roberts and the council members reaching a consensus to move forward with a consideration of the rate increase, Wilmarth said the city would run all necessary advertising on the matter so a public hearing could be held and a decision made during the July meeting of the Ball Ground City Council.