Danielsville residents will see a small increase on their 2014 property tax bills this fall.
The city council voted earlier this month to increase the city’s mil rate from .004 (4 percent) to .00425 (4.25 percent) on this year’s tax rate. Mayor Todd Higdon said this would increase tax bills by about $9 per parcel.
The annual revenue increase for the city will also be small — about $3,750, or “about enough to pay for a couple of water leaks,” according to Higdon.
The mayor pointed out that since the city did not get the increased sales tax revenue it requested from the county to improve utilities, this is one way to help them maintain services while having as little financial impact as they can on property owners.
Higdon said in his recommendation to the council that he would rather implement small one-quarter percent increases every few years to reflect the cost of doing business and maintaining services, rather than implement a large increase all at one time, as city leaders did in 2010.
City council member Michael Wideman, who made the motion for the increase, said he didn’t like to have to do it and understands that taxpayers feel as if they are already “nine-dollared to death,” but that the city has little choice if it wants to maintain its level of service to its citizens.
In a related matter, the council reviewed the city’s annual audit from city auditors Rushton and Company. Higdon noted that the auditors were pleased with the turnaround in the city’s finances over the last couple of years and that the city had managed to climb into “the black” by $50,000 in 2012.
Higdon also noted that the city’s water/sewer fund which has “plagued” city leaders for years was $64,000 in the black at the end of 2013, up from being $100,000 “underwater” in 2009.
Wideman said the turnaround was due to the city clerk, mayor and council working hard to decrease “frivolous, repetitive” city expenses.
City attorney Dale Perry told the council that it was also due in part to the council making some hard decisions, such as increasing water rates, that were not always popular at the time, but that have paid off in the long run.
Higdon said a big thanks was due to everyone working together in all the city’s departments.
“Now the city of Danielsville can breathe a little easier,” he said.
In other action, the council voted to amend the business and occupation license ordinance to implement a “peddlers’ fee” of $15 per day to roadside sellers inside the city limits. This was done in response to complaints from local businesses, who are required to have a business license, and said roadside sellers were taking business away from them. The license also applies to groups who sell items for fundraisers at the red light, Wideman noted. Wideman said it will also give city leaders an idea of who the sellers are, in case there are any complaints from customers.
In other matters, the council heard that the south-side water tank is now targeted to come online Sept. 27. Until then, the county has agreed to open its water valve to maintain the pressure needed for the new high school’s fire protection. Higdon said this should be able to be done at a minimal cost to the city.
The council also discussed the upcoming Sherwood annexation referendum. City clerk Susan Payne told the council that there are currently 59 registered voters who live in Sherwood who will be eligible to vote on the matter in the November election. She said the city would need to reimburse the county election board for actual expenses in adding the referendum to the general election ballots for those voters.
Mayor Higdon said he rode through the subdivision recently with a Georgia Power representative and determined that 16 additional streetlights would need to be installed, which will add $169 to the city’s monthly power bill.
The city is also awaiting word from the county on paving and repairing streets in the subdivision.
Higdon said he plans to meet with county commission chairman Anthony Dove on the matter.