Tag Archives: tax

Lowering the Millage Rate @ LCC Millage 2019-08-27

Finance Director Stephanie Black said due to the Property Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, if the tax digest (total assessed property value in the county) goes up, the county has to reduce the millage (tax per $1,000 of property value), or announce the difference as a tax increase and hold three public hearings, so they’re rolling back the millage rate slightly: 0.126 mills, down from 11.064 for 2018 to 10.938 for 2019. That’s Georgia Senate Bill 177, Act 431, signed April 30, 1999, effective January 1, 2000. Here is the millage resolution they adopted half an hour later, in the board packet, which LAKE only received after this millage meeting and after the Commission voted on this millage change:

[A RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING THE 2019 AD VALOREM TAX MILLAGES FOR LOWNDES COUNTY]
A RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING THE 2019 AD VALOREM TAX MILLAGES FOR LOWNDES COUNTY

She showed some quite informative slides, which for unknown reasons do not seem to be on the Finance Department’s web page. For example, she had a nice summary slide of the five chunks of sales tax these days:

  • 4 cents to the State of Georgia,
  • 1 cent to Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), split between county and its cities for property tax reduction,
  • 1 cent to Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), split between county and its cities for capital improvements,
  • 1 cent to Educational Special Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST), split between the county and city school systems for capital improvements
  • 1 cent to Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST), regionally approved, and split between the county and its cities for transportation capital improvements.

Billed on the lowndescounty.com calendar as Millage Meeting, 5PM, Tuesday, 27 August 2019, in Commission Chambers before the voting Regular Session, as usual almost nobody attended, and nobody from the public spoke.

But you can see the whole eight-minute meeting for yourself. Here’s a LAKE video playlist:


Lowering the Millage Rate
Millage Meeting, Lowndes County Commission (LCC Millage),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, August 27, 2019.

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Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

Videos: SPLOST VIII, Grassy Pond Sewer, and Hospital Authority funding @ LCC 2019-07-23

Five and a half minutes of the Regular Session fifteen minutes was on the county guaranteeing refinancing Hospital Authority debt, due to County Manager Joe Pritchard reciting what’s in the agreement, and Hospital Authority CEO Bill Forbes speaking, and Chairman Bill Slaughter thanking him. The agreement is in the board packet on the LAKE website from a LAKE open records request.

Hospital Authority

Citizen Michelle Williams of Hahira asked for a spay and neuter ordinance, noting Macon and Dalton have those already. County Clerk Paige Dukes praised Michelle Williams and other volunteers.

Second at almost two minutes was Continue reading

Special Called Meeting to approve SPLOST VIII Projects @ LCC 2019-07-31

You got a notice about this meeting two days in advance, if you signed up for the county’s alerts, which is twice as long as they usually do. Special Called Meeting,

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
A special called meeting will be held to adopt the amended SPLOST VIII Agreement.

Date: July 31, 2019

Time: 8:30 AM

Location: Board of Commissioners
Administration Building

Address: 327 N. Ashley Street
2nd Floor
Valdosta, GA 31601

[Lowndes Project List]
Lowndes Project List
PDF

Here is Lowndes County’s SPLOST VIII Project List. The biggest items are water and sewer at $23 million and sports at $13,274,912, followed by the historic Courthouse at $12 million. Note nothing about Continue reading

Board Packet @ LCC 2019-07-22

For the first time ever, the county returned the complete board packet before the Lowndes County Commission voted on it! This was in response to an open records request sent Wednesday, so the statutory three days were actually up Monday morning. They emailed the packet Monday afternoon about 5PM.

[Google Map annotated by LAKE]
Google Map annotated by LAKE to show the quit claimed part of Reed Road in magenta (this map was not part of the board packet).

All the dirt part of Reed Road, back from the old Skipper Bridge over the Withlacoochee River, to the entrance to Pine Grove Middle School, is what is being abandoned. It is possible to decipher this from the quit claims in the board packet for yesterday morning’s Lowndes County Commission Work Session and tonight’s Regular Session.

All the SPLOST VIII Project Lists, for the county and the five cities, are included; see below.

Everything the county sent, plus images of each page, is on the LAKE website. LAKE looks forward to the county putting all these packet documents on the county’s own website, along with the agenda and agenda sheets.

See also:

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Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

[Lowndes Project List]
Lowndes Project List
PDF

SPLOST VIII Project Lists

[Valdosta Project List]
Valdosta Project List
PDF

[Hahira Project List]
Hahira Project List
PDF

[Remerton Project List]
Remerton Project List
PDF

[Dasher Project List]
Dasher Project List
PDF

[Lake Park Project List]
Lake Park Project List
PDF

Videos: SPLOST VIII, Grassy Pond Sewer, and Hospital Authority funding @ LCC 2019-07-23 2019-07-22

The whole Work Session took eleven minutes, of which three were about the county guaranteeing refinancing Hospital Authority debt. They vote tonight at 5:30 PM; Gretchen will be there with the LAKE video camera. Update 2019-07-23:< Obtained in response to an open records request from LAKE, board packet is on the LAKE website.

Second longest yesterday morning at a minute and a half was the SPLOST VIII Agreement, for which it seems the list is already finished, finalized at a “public” meeting between the county and the five cities, which was not announced to the public.

Most of the bids for the Grassy Pond Sewer Connection were not in the board packet, we discovered due to a question by a Commissioner. The Abandonment of Portion of Reed Road is the bit to the Withlacoochee River, which they county says was “unopened”, which is a strange way to describe the old dirt road that used to cross the river on a bridge.

Below are Continue reading

SPLOST VIII, Grassy Pond Sewer, and Hospital Authority funding @ LCC 2019-07-22

Not on Lowndes County’s online calendar, the county already met with the five cities about SPLOST VIII:

On July 8, 2019, Lowndes County met with the cities of Valdosta, Hahira, Lake Park, Remerton and Dasher to officially call for SPLOST VIII. As a result, the attached SPLOST VIII Agreement between Lowndes County and the cities has been prepared for consideration. Once approved by Lowndes County, the agreement will be forwarded to the cities for consideration during a public meeting.

SPLOST VII pie by Lowndes County
Lowndes County on the previous SPLOST.

Will when and where for that upcoming “public meeting” be announced in advance? Where is “the attached SPLOST VIII Agreement”? Wednesday morning at 9:35 AM, I sent the county a Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) request for the board packet for this week’s Lowndes County Commission meetings. By a very generous interpretation of the three business days GORA permits to respond to such a request, time’s up this morning at 9:35 AM. So far, the county has not even acknowledged receipt of the request.

The Hospital Authority, over whom the county has so little authority it has to Continue reading

Unannounced special session on budget and litter @ LCC 2019-05-29

The Lowndes County Commission said there will be a public hearing on their proposed $108 million budget at 5PM, Tuesday, June 11, 2019 (today). That public hearing is on the county’s online calendar. They also said the budget included a new trash collection division, and they were considering using that to replace Keep Lowndes-Valdosta Beautiful (KLVB).

But the meeting at which that Tuesday Budget Public Hearing was announced, which was some time Wednesday afternoon, May 29, 2019, is nowhere on lowndescounty.com that I can find, not in the calendar, news, or agendas, and they said nothing about it the previous day in their Work Session and Regular Session, both on that Tuesday. Also, I received no notification of the Wednesday meeting, even though I’m signed up for such things. We only know of it because of Continue reading

Videos: Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) Meeting: Lowndes County and cities @ SDS 2019-02-04

The longest topic was water and wastewater, when elected officials from Lowndes County and its cities, Valdosta, Lake Park, Dasher, and Hahira (but apparently not Remerton), gathered on neutral ground to discuss tax revenue allocation, in a public meeting. Curiously, the Chairman and the Mayors were not invited. It’s not clear whether omitting them helped or not. There was actually mention that growth close to existing services is better than sprawl.

Below are links to each WWALS video Gretchen took, with a few notes, followed by a WWALS video playlist. See also the meeting announcement.

Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) Meeting: Lowndes County and cities @ SDS 2019-02-04

Update 2019-03-04: WWALS videos.

At least some elected officials from at least Lowndes County and Valdosta will be gathering Monday on neutral ground to discuss tax revenue allocation. Apparently this is a public meeting which anyone can attend.

In its usual laconic manner, this is all the county says in its online calendar:

SDS Meeting

Date: February 4, 2019

Time: 5:00 PM

Location: Valdosta- Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority Offices

Address: 1901 North Forrest Street
Valdosta, GA 31601

Street View, Image
Google Street View, VLPRA, 1901 N. Forrest Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

A usually reliable source says this meeting is for voting Council and Commissioners, and the Mayor and Chairman were not invited. I don’t know if elected members of Council would only be from Valdosta, or also from Remerton, Lake Park, Hahira, and Dasher. If a quorum of any Council or Commissioners for any of these elected bodies is present, Georgia law requires it to be an open meeting which the public may attend. I can’t imagine the county would have posted it publicly if it wasn’t.

The offices of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA) are neutral ground, because Continue reading

Lowndes County rolled back millage @ LCC 2018-08-17

As Lowndes County Finance Director Stephanie Black always reminds everybody, of the total 8.814 county millage, 1 mil goes to the Development Authority, and 1.25 mils to Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreational Authority. Here is a table from the PDF of her presentation slides.

Property Tax Example
City of Valdosta ResidentUnincorporated Resident
Property Value$200,000$200,000
Assessed Value (40%)$80,000$80,000
Homestead Exemption$(6,000)$(6,000)
Net Taxable Base$74,000$74,000
Tax Calculation:
Lowndes County — 8.814 PY 8.974$652$652
Development Authority — 1.00$74$74
Parks
& Recreation Authority — 1.25$93$93
Lowndes County Schools — 16.541 PY 16.839$1,224
City of Valdosta — 8.001 PY 8.001$592
Valdosta City Schools — 16.980 PY 16.980$1,257
Total Estimated Taxes$2,668$2,043

Since she made that table, Valdosta actually lowered its millage to 7.916, which in the above example would mean $50.32 less per year, for an example of how little difference these minor millage rollbacks or increases actually mean to taxpayers. The Valdosta Board of Education wants to increase its tax rate (but not its millage).

Last year the Lowndes County Commission voted on the millage during a Regular Session, Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

This year Continue reading