District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell III and District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guilder cast the dissenting votes in a 3-2 vote for the budget’s passage.
The $89.4 million budget has been months in the making, and relies heavily on speculation as to what will happen with the economy.
Currently, the county is funding a $73.4 million budget through a millage rate of 9.9. Although a new millage rate will not be set until July, projections are that a rate of 12.9 mills will be needed.
The new budget has $6.5 million in road projects, which all commissioners agreed was the most requested service by their constituents.
“One of the reasons for the increase is due to transportation and road projects,” said District 3 Commissioner Mike Mulcare. “Our roads need work and our citizens bring that to our attention constantly.”
The biggest expenditure in the 2013 budget is public safety, which eats away 46.56 percent of the 2013 budget.
Commission Chairman Tom Worthan said he was willing to “guesstimate” that owners of a $125,000 home could see an additional $130 on their annual tax bill.
District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell III had predicted if the proposed budget passed, residents would see a tax increase.
He added, “The good news is the benefit you will continue to get on our Cadillac level of service.”
Worthan said he understood that “no one wants to increase taxes but we’ve been in a recession for the last four years.”
Seventy-four percent of the county’s revenue comes from property taxes, which according to Worthan remains less than any other collected in the Atlanta region.
“The decline in property tax revenue is due to foreclosures and short sales,” said Worthan.
District 2 Commissioner Kelly Robinson, who serves on the finance committee, said, “This budget allows us to keep this government moving. The process is something we don’t take likely and we’re setting a budget prior to reality kicking in. Transparency is important, because this is your money.”
The commissioners agreed on the need to increase the county’s tax base by bringing new industry into the community – which cannot be done without addressing the county’s infrastructure and improving roads.
“We won’t get business to come into our county if we don’t address transportation and getting roads fixed,” said Mulcare.