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Toombs Taxpayers Face Increase
Monday, 09 November 2009

November 9--  Toombs County commissioners vote Friday on raising taxes on the county's property owners.  The increase could be as high as one mil which they estimate will cost the average homeowner in the county $27 dollars.  The commission says the average home value in Toombs County is $68,000.

Until now, Toombs Commissioners have been able to hold taxes down and they note the county has the lowest property tax rate of others its size in the area.

The commission is looking to make up a half-million dollar shortfall in next year's budget which is caused as much by a change in accounting procedures as anything else.

Past administrations have chosen to use money generated by the county landfill to pay for other areas of county operations and thereby avoid an increase in property taxes.

County manager Doug Eaves says the practice is legal, but not right.

So next year, the proposed county budget, for the most part, will depend on a tax increase and not the landfill to balance the books.  However, there is one exception.  The budget still shows one transfer of $130,000 from the landfill to the general fund to pay for recreation.

The biggest new item in the budget is for new trash and recycling convenience centers being built in various parts of the county.  Commissioners estimate it will take $422,366 to operate them, however, Eaves believes they will end up saving the county money. 

The county will hold its final public hearing on the proposed tax increase Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the courthouse in Lyons.  After the hearing, the commissioners will vote on the increase.

Here is a Handout Citizens are Given at the Public Hearings 

One Mill equals $565,700 spendable revenue

The average home value in Toombs County is $68,000. A One Mill increase in taxes would equal an extra $27 per year, $2.25 per month or .07 cents per day

In 2010 these divisions have been moved to General Fund from landfill - This move is the main cause of the millage increase.

Animal Control             $ 56,000

Solid Waste Collection $422,366

Code Enforcement___ $ 39,000

Total                            $517,366

In the past these divisions were paid for out of landfill to hold down the GF millage.

General Fund should have spent this millage equivalent:

2006             .7 Mills         $343,331

2007             .6 Mills         $350,287

2008             .6 Mills         $359,345

In addition the County transferred 3.5 Million dollars from the Landfill to the General Fund since 2004. In 2006-08 this held the General Fund Millage rate lower than it should have been by the following:

Millage Equivalent

2006         .8       $398,082

2007     1.5       $839,215

2008     1.2       $676,961

While holding down the General Fund millage rate Toombs County has not funded required legal assurance liabilities of over 4.8 Million dollars for closure/post-closure cost (Increases by $89,000 each year)- Future taxpayers are on the hook. This future cost equals 98.8% of the entire tax levy for 2008

These assurances are required by State and Federal law and the numbers are directly from audited reports. THE COUNTY TAXPAYER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE COST.

Toombs County under past administrations has been shifting cost to future generations. We have paid current bills with income reserved for needed future expenditures. We have eaten the steak dinner and left our kids the tab.

     The landfill cost assurances do not include 1.2 million in new cell construction now and then 1.5 million again in five years. We also have to buy nine acres of land for cover dirt adjacent to the landfill. No money has been set aside for these expenses. A enterprise fund should and must pay for itself. The SPLOST has had to pay for landfill capital needs in the past, now and in the immediate future.

    This diversion of funds means no funds available in SPLOST to pay for road paving or new equipment.

    Part of the one mill will also be used for the 2010 elections: New cost $149,101

   This number represents a savings of over 20% from 2008 ($51,280) by forming new Board of Elections and Registrars                                                                                                       

  Municipal Recreation funding of $130,000 is paid for by a landfill transfer since tax dollars cannot be used in the  Municipalities (Georgia Code).      

Of all of the Counties similar in population to Toombs we have the second lowest Millage. Other than Evans we have the lowest millage of all of our neighbors.

Toombs County contrary to rumors is fairly current on our tax Collections. We only have 1.1% outstanding taxes. Total due since 1997 is $338,000. All of the $198,000 from 2008 has had tax liens placed on the property. It is collecting penalties and interest. It cannot be auctioned until 2010. The Tax Commissioner is having a Sheriff sale on property in December on 109 parcels from 2007 and 2006. All remainder of old taxes is in personal; property that belonged to closed businesses or property in bankruptcy of without clear title.



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