The Valdosta Mayor and City Council set the Fiscal Year 2017 millage rate for Valdosta citizens at 7.95 mills at the Aug. 25 City Council meeting, after listening to and considering the feedback from citizens at three scheduled public hearings.
Since 1992, the millage rate has been decreased 11 times and only increased once. This will be the second increase in 23 years, leaving the City of Valdosta’s millage rate as one of the lowest millage rates in the state, among peer cities. Valdosta’s millage rate of 7.95 mills is favorable to comparable cities such as Brunswick’s 13.219 mills, Savannah’s 12.48, Tifton’s 12.183, Warner Robins 9.99 and Albany’s 9.853 mills.
The new millage rate of 7.95 mills will fund the FY 2017 General Fund Budget that mayor and council adopted in June 2016. The new rate, which compensates for a 3 percent decrease in the city’s net digest, will support the general fund services of the city. These general fund services include fire and police services, as well as the new salary compensation plan for city employees that will be effective Sept. 26.
Information received from the Lowndes County Tax Assessors and Tax Commissioners offices provided to the city reveals that the city’s tax digest decreased by $41,515,599 compared to the 2016 digest. The majority of the decrease is attributed to reductions in both real property values and motor vehicle values, as well as the fact that citizens are exempt from the annual ad valorem tax or “birthday” tax.
“We believe the city has worked diligently through the years to provide superior services to our community while maintaining a low millage rate,” said City Manager Larry Hanson. “It is necessary for the city to recruit and retain quality employees to insure that we can continue to deliver the quality services that our citizens expect and deserve.”
As a result of the millage, citizens may experience a slight increase in taxes paid to the City of Valdosta. For a home with a fair market value of $100,000, the net increase for the taxpayer is approximately $62, which equals $5.16 per month. The proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a value of $100,000 is approximately $74. For City of Valdosta property owners, approximately 22% of their property taxes come to the city. The remainder goes to the following entities: Valdosta City Schools (16.98 mills), the State of Georgia (.25 mills), Lowndes County (8.974 mills), the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (1 mill) and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (1.25 mills).
In keeping with the tradition of consistently lowering the millage rate over nearly three decades, city officials plan to re-evaluate the city’s economic status next year.
“The current millage rate doesn’t necessarily last forever,” said Mayor John Gayle. “With new business and development growth, as well as future increases in revenues and property values, we can choose to reduce the millage rate when it’s economically smart to do so —as we’ve done successfully in the past. We are always thinking about how to best serve our citizens.”
For more information about the millage rate, visit www.valdostacity.com or contact the Public Information Office at (229) 259-3548.