Upson County Commissioners Thursday night announced they would seek a sizeable increase in property taxes.
Members of the Thomaston-Upson School Board meanwhile also said they would seek an increase in property taxes.
County Commissioners, during their regular scheduled meeting, said they would increase property tax 2.5 mills from 11.31 mills.
Board of Education members said they would seek a 0.94 mill increase from 12.52 mills.
In a formal statement Commissioner Chairman Glenn Collins explained the needed increase.
"Last year the County Commission reduced the tax millage to 11.31 mills, a decrease of 4.12 mills from the previous year.
"This reduction was made possible by a one-time tax rebate of $603,000 in residual SPLOST funds, as well as a higher than expected influx of court fines and law enforcement fees.
"This year the County Commission must increase the millage rate by 2.50 mills. There are several reasons for this increase.
"First, the $603,000 tax rebate applied last year is not again available for the current year. Second, insurance costs for health, properties, general liability and law enforcement have increases significantly and are expected to increase even more over time.
"Third, our state-mandated costs within the court system continue to increase, especially with the establishment of the public defender methods of providing indigent defense, while court fines and law enforcement collections have fallen off dramatically.
"Fourth, other state-mandated costs, such as those incurred in public health, jail operations, and law enforcement, have also increased.
"And fifth, the County's number one taxpayer cannot be relied upon to pay its 2005 taxes by the December 22 deadline. This taxpayer, in fact, continues to owe back taxes for fiscal year 2003 in an amount totaling $350,000.
"Our county manager and each member of the Board of Commissioners continually monitor expenses and explore cost saving opportunities. However, the county's funding responsibilities include not only general county functions, but also five constitutional offices and five component governmental units such as the Airport, Parks & Recreation, and Industrial Development Authority.
"The county bears ultimate financial responsibility for the funding of all "community-wide" activities and functions, many of which operate outside the direct financial control of the county manager and Board of Commissioners.
"Each year the commissioners must establish a tax millage rate that, when applied to our county-wide property values, will produce sufficient revenue to protect and maintain the financial stability of Upson County.
"Accordingly, the County Commissioners are proposing a 2.50 mill rate increase for the year 2005."
The 2003 tax mill rate was 15.43, 2004 tax mill 11.31, as compared to the proposed 13.81 mill rate for 2005.
In the taxes in the past year property taxes for a resident with a home assessed at $100,000 paid $617 in 2003, $452 in 2004, and will pay $552 in 2005, according to County Manager Mark Bryant.
Those amounts do not take the school board millage rate into effect.
Thomaston-Upson School Board Chairman Keith Rohling said the increase is necessary.
The energy cost have gone up and that deals with a variety of things," Chairman Keith Rohling said. "Energy in running the schools, fuel for buses, and supplies being brought in. Gas costs gets passed on to us," he said.
No new programs have been added, and only three positions were created due to the increased number of students attending local schools, according to Rohling.
"The state will reimburse us for some of those costs, but we will have to foot some off the bill," Rohling said.
"This is not an increase because we're trying something new, but because of increase cost to the school system," said Rohling.
"We haven't gone up significantly in the past years and we're not trying to cause problems for local citizens," Rohling said. "But we cannot operate in the red."
School board member David Banks agrees the increase is needed.
"The teachers have received an increase in pay and any time that happens local cost goes up," Banks said. "But teachers deserve the raise so we just need to fund that locally."
Banks also said an increase is needed due to the state cutting funding in the past two years.
"Just because the state takes away the funding doesn't mean that the need for funding goes away," he said. "We still have to fund programs."
"Local residents will have the chance to voice their opinion at three public hearings.
Three public hearings must be held, each giving the public one weeks notice through local advertising.
One mill, which is one-tenth of one percent of assessed property value, generates roughly $485,000 in revenue.