Cobb millage rate hike supporters outnumber opponents at hearing

June Van Brackle of the Senior Citizen Council of Cobb speaks in favor of the Cobb millage rate increase (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)June Van Brackle of the Senior Citizen Council of Cobb (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The first of three state-mandated Cobb millage rate hearings was held Tuesday morning during the regular meeting of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners. The people who spoke in favor of the millage rate increase during the public comment section significantly outnumbered those against the increase. Senior centers, libraries, and parks were among the issues residents who support the tax hike mentioned. Nine people spoke in favor of the increase, while three opposed it.

Cobb millage rate public comment

June Van Brackle, the president and chair of the Senior Citizen Council of Cobb County said her organization polled its members. She said, “We received 180 responses, so we’re talking for our constituents. Our findings show that more than two-thirds of all respondents were in favor of raising the millage rate to improve the quality of life. More than 70 percent of our respondents use Cobb County Parks, libraries, senior centers and 70 percent of them use Cobb senior service centers. Almost three-quarters would not be willing, unsure, or unlikely to pay an annual fee to use Cobb senior service facilities.”

“For Cobb County seniors, Senior Services provide enrichment, and often the only outlet for socializing and connecting with the outside world,” she said.  “Our public services are not keeping up with the population and growth of seniors and other groups. The shortage of funds affect all senior services and all services for the community at large.  We need and we deserve better,” she said.

Alicia Adams from Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Alicia Adams from Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Alicia Adams, a Cobb homeowner for 14 years, said she was at the hearing on behalf of the Georgia Chapter of Americans for Prosperity. She was opposed to the millage rate increase.  “The proposed property tax hike would cost county residents millions of dollars in additional property taxes next year.  Americans for Prosperity understands the importance of property taxes to fund local projects such as roads and schools. However, the additional tax dollars being proposed would not be used for that purpose,” she said. “So rather than looking at taxpayers to bail them out of the financial decisions, this commission, instead of threatening to close Cobb County parks, senior centers, and animal shelters, should look to reigning in out-of-control spending and reduce the corporate welfare provided in the form of massive tax breaks to big businesses. Homeowners and all citizens of Cobb County have been taxed enough.”

Shelley Callico from West Cobb speaks in favor of the millage rate increase (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Shelley Callico from West Cobb speaks in favor of the millage rate increase (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Shelley Callico from West Cobb said, “I’m here to encourage you to vote in favor of the millage rate increase. We believe that the principle of having a local library, not a regional library, is the bedrock to Cobb.  Today we speak for all populations: the toddlers who come to storytime, the pre-K students who get ready for kindergarten, the fourth-grader who just finds a new book series that he loves, or the eighth-grader who discovers the science fiction series that keeps him hooked over the long summer. We speak for families, singles and those who can’t be here today because they can’t drive. And I also teach in Cobb County schools, and some of our Title I schools, this is a reality: the dad takes the car, so mama can’t go anywhere other than to the bus stop.  … The library has no barriers.  It is an open house to all, and everyone is welcome. And as such we implore the board of commissioners to raise the millage rate so not only will we not lose our beloved libraries., that we’ll return the hours to what they were previously.”

Two more public hearings

In addition to today’s hearing, there will be further opportunities for the public to give feedback on Tuesday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, July 25 at 7 p.m.

Under Georgia law, counties are required to calculate a “rollback” millage rate after property reassessments are done and the total digest of taxable property for the year is prepared.  “Millage” is the amount per $1,000 of the taxable value of a property used to calculate how much the property owner owes in taxes.  The “rollback” millage rate is the hypothetical rate at which the taxation under the newly prepared tax digest would produce the same total tax revenue as the previous year.  If the county proposes a millage rate higher than the rollback rate it three public hearings are required so the public can give its opinion on the tax increase.