The Ball Ground City Council will consider a budget for fiscal year 2021 Thursday that is not expected to result in higher taxes, according to city officials.

City Manager Eric Wilmarth said the proposed $4.7 million budget does not look like it will require a tax increase. Ball Ground’s current property tax millage rate stands at 5 mills. Under the current rate, owners of a home valued at $200,000 would get a $400 bill for city property taxes, as only 40 percent of a property's value is considered in the tax bill.

The city may roll back the rate to keep property tax bills at roughly the same level they were last year, Wilmarth said, though officials will not be certain until the property tax digest comes out later in the year. The council is scheduled to finalize the budget in May.

The budget as currently proposed is $4,732,510 across all five categories — general fund, utility account, solid waste, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the fire district tax, Wilmarth said. This amount marks an increase of about $840,000 over the fiscal year 2020 budget.

When comparing the proposed budget for FY 2021 with the current FY 2020 budget, Wilmarth said one of the biggest changes is the creation of two new city positions. One of the openings would be with roads, streets and parks, while the other would be a completely new position, a full-time city planner. Planning-related duties are currently handled by the city clerk.

Another major change is the addition of $595,000 to the water and sewer budget, driven primarily by the projected completion of new developments and their tying into city lines.

A handful of projects throughout town are set to be funded with SPLOST dollars in the upcoming budget. About $135,000 has been set aside for road projects, although only work on Depot Street and at the Depot Street railroad crossing have been officially decided upon. Along with this, the city would approve $35,000 for the purchase of asphalt and $28,000 for equipment to patch potholes on city streets. An additional $25,000 has been allocated for a grant match that would allow for a crosswalk to be installed across Ga. Highway 5 at Lantern Walk Drive.

Other key SPLOST-related projects included work related to the 800 MHz radio system for public safety, sidewalk connections and Americans with Disabilities Act improvements, namely removing the step-down curbs on older sidewalk sections and replacing them with ADA-compliant ramps, in the city and the purchase of a new patrol vehicle for the Ball Ground Police Department.

The Ball Ground City Council meets 7 p.m. Thursday via Zoom. Members of the public can access the meeting on YouTube. Those with questions or comments for the mayor and city council are asked to submit them to by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

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(1) comment

Ramble On

Raised millage rate taxes last year to proactively cover losses from canceling events that bring in sales taxes; telling citizens it's a temp fix and plan to lower them when this is over. Then turn around next spring and explode the budget by more than 15%. I think this group has done well over the years in Ball Ground but I highly question this course at this time.

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