COBB COUNTY, Ga. – It was a long night in Cobb County as dozens of people spoke about a proposed tax increase.
Supporters of the increase said higher taxes are necessary to help pay for county parks and police while opponents said there are other areas to cut instead of raising taxes.
“My god, I will give up a Starbucks to give our police whatever the hell they want,” one resident said.
Jane Barton said,“I urge the commission to vote no on the harmful millage increase and the shamefully bloated budget.”
Justin O'Dell said he expects “the best in this county.”
“Whatever the best costs, I expect you to deliver,” he told the board.
So how did Cobb County get to this point?
County leaders said there was a budget shortfall somewhere between $30 and $55 million. They've threatened to shut down 10 county parks if they couldn't pass the tax increase.
Let's look at what Cobb residents will now have to pay.
If you own a $200,000 home, your county property taxes were just under $2,000 this year. Under the new millage rate, you would see an increase of a little more than $300 a year or about $26 a month.
Cobb County is famous for having some of the lowest taxes in the metro-area especially compared to the other counties of the same size.
By the end of the night, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved the Fiscal Year 2019 budget and set the 2018 millage rate. The millage rate includes the 1.7 mill increase sought by Chairman Mike Boyce.
The millage rate was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Chairman Boyce, Commissioner Lisa Cupid and Commissioner Bob Weatherford voting in the affirmative. Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell voted against it.
Boyce believes the increase is enough to keep all county services operating and begin the process of restoring some services cut during the recession, according to a release. The millage rate will be effective for 2018.
The millage rate for the county's general fund will go from 6.76 to 8.46, still one of the lowest rates in metro Atlanta, the statement read. The $454,187,061 budget is 12.58 percent higher than 2018 and restores the County’s capital replacement schedule.
Cobb County said those who live in their primary homes in Cobb County receive a unique tax break in the form of a floating homestead exemption that keeps their contribution to the general fund frozen as the assessed value of their homes rises.