Stephens Co. Commission Re-visiting Budget Tonight

Stephens County Commissioners will meet later today to take yet another look at the county’s already approved Fiscal Year 2015 budget in an effort to bring down a proposed millage rate increase.

The county commission is set to meet at 5:30 p.m. at the historic Stephens County Courthouse in downtown Toccoa.

Last month, Stephens County Commissioners approved a Fiscal Year 2015 budget for the county by a 4-1 vote.

That budget incorporated a 2.85 mill increase in the county’s millage rate, going from 11.32 to 14.17 mills.

Monday, county commissioners held the first two of three required public hearings that must take place before voting to adopt that millage rate increase.

During those public hearings, numerous citizens spoke in opposition to the millage rate hike, calling on commissioners to trim the county’s budget.

Following the second public hearing Monday night, Commissioner Debbie Whitlock said she no longer supported the budget based on the 2.85 mill hike.

Meanwhile, the other three commissioners that voted in favor of the budget last month, Dean Scarborough, Dennis Bell, and Michelle Grafton, said they were willing to take another look at the budget before adopting a millage rate.

Commissioner Stanley London voted against the Fiscal Year 2015 budget because of the millage rate increase.

Stephens County Commissioners are scheduled to hold one final hearing on the millage rate increase proposal on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the historic courthouse.

County commissioners are then expected to vote on the millage rate during their 5:30 p.m. meeting on Tuesday.

The county commission can choose to adopt a millage rate lower than 14.17 mills as long as the approved Fiscal Year 2015 budget is amended accordingly.

If the county commission approves a 2.85 mill increase, that would mean for a home valued at $100,000 with no exemptions an increase of about $114 on a yearly tax bill to support county government services, not including the school system.