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County considers millage
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The countys portion of the tax rate is expected to remain the same for the eighth straight year.

The board of commissioners will vote on the matter at its July 5 meeting.

The countys portion of the millage rate 8.138 remains the same from 2011. The schools millage assessment is 15.546, with .400 added for bond payments. The board of education will set the 2012 millage rate projected to remain 15.546 at their July 16 meeting.

Cindy Campbell, the countys chief financial officer and temporary county manager, presented the 2012 county tax levy and millage rate at a commission work session June 28.

The budget will project $8,888,568 in property tax money down from $10,290,681 in 2011. Commission Chair Mike Berg had predicted a reduction in 2012 property tax revenues.

At the work session, commissioners heard that over the past five years, there has been a 25 to 30 percent reduction in tax revenue mostly because of fallen values in taxable properties.

At a 13.63 percent decrease in net property revenue, it means that weve got to cut somewhere between 1.2 and 1.3 million off the budget, and/or make that up in LOST increases, Berg said, going on to explain that there has been about a 7 percent increase in LOST (Local Options Sales Tax) funds. I think were looking at a difference of about $400,000 to $500,000.

Berg would not comment on where the budget would be decreased to make up for the loss of revenue, although he was clear on two points.

Ive promised citizens I wouldnt raise millage, and Im not going to do that, Berg said, and Ive promised employees that I wouldnt do furloughs, and Im not going to do that.

Budget hearings are scheduled to begin July 9, with the 2013 budget to be presented at an Aug. 9 commission work session. Two public hearings will follow the initial presentation. The budget will be voted on during a September meeting of the board.

Also at the work session, the commission discussed the following:

Etowah Water & Sewer Authority is seeking approval to swap a parcel of land along the Rock Creek Park complex with Jackie and Jerry Townley. EWSA has been working on this for awhile, explained EWSA General Manager Brooke Anderson. The EWSA property (following the swap) would then be deeded over to the county for the purpose of constructing new soccer fields for the park. The EWSA board agrees to foot the cost, Anderson said.

This is an immediate need of ours, said Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Henson. I think its a great opportunity for a great partnership.

County attorney Joey Homans alerted the board to a public meeting to be held July 16 for a sludge sprayfield to possibly locate in Dawson County.

Waterscape Utility, LLC (of Waterscape Services, LLC) has advertised the meeting to be held at 10 a.m. in the Hampton Village golf clubhouse, located in Cumming. The intent of the sludge sprayfield is to take sewage sludge from the Hampton Creek wastewater treatment, located in Forsyth County, to a property located at the corner of Harry Sosebee Road and SR 9 E in the southern end of Dawson County.

A memo from Homans to the board defines sludge as being the solid or semi-solid residue generated at a wastewater treatment or pre-treatment plant.

The memo further defines sludge land application as the placement of sludge on or under the ground surface for the purpose of sludge disposal, soil conditioning or agricultural enhancement.

Homans informed the board that a permit would have to be filed with the Environmental Protection Division, and no application has been filed yet. Homans said that a public meeting like the July 16 one is encouraged by the EPD prior to filing. The memo from Homans says that the public meeting to be held on July 16 does not constitute a public hearing required by the Environmental Protection Division Rules.

David McKee, director of the planning and development department in the county, will be attending the July 16 meeting.

This raises many concerns to me, Homans said, the first being, Why are we doing this here? Homans told commissioners that they would have an opportunity to speak about the project.

We do need to object to that, Berg said at the work session. The commissioners are scheduled to discuss the project at the upcoming July 5 voting session.