The Newnan Times-Herald


Tax increase for public safety proposed

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Jul. 29, 2017 - 5:45 PM

Coweta County is considering a property tax increase of 8.6 percent, and three public hearings are scheduled on the proposed increase.

Hearings will be Aug. 8 at 6 p.m., Aug. 22 at 7:30 a.m. and Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. The hearings will be held in the county commission chambers, upstairs at 37 Perry St. in downtown Newnan.

The Coweta County Commissioners are scheduled to set the millage rate Aug. 22, at the commission meeting that will be held after the third public hearing.

The county is proposing the increase in the millage rate to fund 44 new public safety positions.

County staff are proposing 26 new positions at the Coweta County Fire Department along with two additional ambulances, and 18 new positions for the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.

The new fire department positions will be budgeted as 12 emergency medical positions and 14 firefighter positions, said Coweta County Administrator Michael Fouts. The two new ambulances will bring the county’s total to nine.

The county has applied for a federal grant that will cover 75 percent of the personnel costs for the new fire and EMS positions for two years, and 35 percent for the third year. If the county receives the grant, the money from the millage rate increase will first go toward the county’s portion of the salaries, and the rest into a fund to pay for the future personnel costs for the positions.

The county won’t know whether the grant is awarded until September or October, Fouts said – after the millage rate is approved.

The positions for the sheriff’s office include patrol deputies, detention officers at the jail and a criminal investigator, according to information provided by Coweta County.

The county must advertise the highest possible rate that the commissioners might consider adopting. The commissioners may choose to set a lower millage rate, Fouts said. County staff were crunching numbers up to the deadline for submitting the proposed millage rate, according to Fouts.

The proposed rate is 6.63 mills for residents of the unincorporated county, and 7.63 mills for those who live in the cities and towns. That’s up from 6.27 and 7.47, respectively.

The tax increase would equal approximately $36.68 year for a $200,000 home in the unincorporated county, and $33.74 for a home in the incorporated area, according to a Coweta County press release.

No change is proposed to the millage rate for the fire district, which is proposed to remain 3.65 mills. The fire bond rate, to pay off the 2008 fire bonds, is 0.44 mills.

Coweta County’s tax digest has grown because of rising property values, which raises the amount of tax revenue that a certain millage rate produces.  A mill is one dollar of tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The proposed rates are an increase of 8.6 percent for those in the unincorporated areas and 6.7 percent for the residents of the cities and towns.