New video on budget and tax increase from Boyce
In his weekly video update, Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce continued his argument for the tax increase.
The town halls
Ross Cavitt, the county’s communications director asked Boyce, “By the time most people view this we will have been through six of your seven budget town halls, and what’s your perception you’re getting from the people after those town halls?”
Boyce said, “Well, I think they’re leaving a lot more informed than when they arrived. One of the purposes of these town halls is to provide information to counter what they hear out there through the media, through their social networks. A lot of it is opinions, a lot of it gossip, a lot of it’s simply not true. And what I try to do is make a presentation where I just simply show them facts, and how I arrived at the conclusions I did.”
[epq-quote align=”align-left”]”We live in a county of 740,000 people, and government has a multitude of responsibilities, so I’d expect there would be some confusion about how we do everything, but over time, we’re gradually providing more of a basis for people to understand what it is we’re trying to do and why we’re doing it.” — Mike Boyce[/epq-quote]
He said the video produced by Cavitt explaining tax bills, and the presence of Stephen White, the tax assessor, at the town halls, had helped him explain the proposed millage rate increase.
“We live in a county of 740,000 people, and government has a multitude of responsibilities, so I’d expect there would be some confusion about how we do everything, but over time, we’re gradually providing more of a basis for people to understand what it is we’re trying to do and why we’re doing it.”
Returning to a pre-recession level of service
He said that an increase in millage rate would allow the county to return to a pre-recession level of services.
“I want to bring us back to a time where we had all these services that people were accustomed to, and we delivered par excellence. Nobody could compete with what we did here in Cobb County. And understand, during the recession we had to cut some of those, Because we are a very conservative county, and people were impacted by the recession, either in loss of their jobs or loss of value of their property. So we had to make corresponding changes. But we’re not there anymore. This is a full employment economy, and trying to reverse that direction requires some courage because that means I have to take us back to a tax level that we haven’t been at for almost ten years.”
How the public hearings differ from the town halls
Cavitt asked Boyce about how the public hearings would differ from the town halls.
“The public hearings are more formal. There may be some opportunity for us to engage with those people who make their opinions known at the public hearings, but it’s not as relaxed as the town halls are.”
The floating exemption
He said that even though the tax digest has gone up, the county had lost more revenue because of the floating exemption. He said that after accounting for the exemptions the county would get more money than was originally estimate “by a couple of million dollars,” He said the $2 million dollars was already factored into the budget.
[epq-quote align=”align-left”]”I have to deal with the reality, and the reality is that these are the requirements that I believe we need to restore this county to being a five-star county where you can safely work, play and pursue your dreams.” — Mike Boyce[/epq-quote]
He repeated his argument that the state’s formula for calculating the percentage of a tax increase exaggerates the actual level of increase.
Boyce said, “We’re going to have to sit here and take the criticism. There’s going to be a lot of people saying ‘What in the world are you doing?’, because they’re only looking at it from one side. But I hope those that have watched the videos we’ve put here over the last six weeks about the budget, plus those who have been to the town hall, finally understand that I would love to have a direct proportional connection between the millage rate and the tax digest. But I don’t have that luxury. I have to deal with the reality, and the reality is that these are the requirements that I believe we need to restore this county to being a five-star county where you can safely work, play and pursue your dreams.”