DeKalb residents could see property tax increase, additional police

Audio version of this story here.

DeKalb County residents could see a slight increase in their property taxes. The more than $562 million dollar budget proposed for 2013 by DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis includes a 1.69 increase to the county’s millage rate.

County officials say that’s nearly $49 more a year for owners of a $200,000 dollar home in unincorporated DeKalb County. But Ellis says even with an increase most county homeowners will pay less in taxes than they did in 2008

Ellis says proposed the increase is needed to help offset lost revenue from five years of declines in the county’s property tax digest and the incorporation of the city of Brookhaven.

“The creation of Brookhaven this is going to cost the county approximately $20 to $23 million dollars in lost revenue this year.”

The budget also includes a 3 percent cost of living adjustment for the county’s lowest paid workers and the addition of 25 police officers. It also proposes nearly $23 million in reductions. But it doesn’t specifically call for any layoffs.

In the past, county commissioners and CEO Ellis have battled over the budget. But this year could be less contentious, because several commissioners sat on a budget committee with the administration.

Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton says the fact that commissioners gave input to the CEO as he crafted the budget was helpful. But she says proposed millage rate increase could be one item that’s debated.

“No one wants a millage rate increase. That was something recommended. That’s something we’ll be looking at, but I can’t tell you it’s going be supported.”

Barnes Sutton says she thinks all the county’s workers should get a pay increase.  A final vote on the budget by is expected in February.