Brookhaven City Council has set the city’s first tax rate at 2.85 mills.
Council voted unanimously to approve that number, which is less than the 3.35 rate that was originally included in the city’s 2013 budget.
“I think it’s lean, it’s efficient, it’s a good start,” said Mayor J. Max Davis. “Hopefully we can go lower next year.”
Property taxes are calculated by multiplying a property’s assessed value and the millage. One mill is equal to $1,000 of taxable property.
Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams first proposed a rate of 2.95 mills at a July 8 work session.
“That gives us a little bit of wiggle room, and my hope is that we will end the year with a good, solid reserve fund,” Williams said.
Councilman Jim Eyre suggested bringing the rate down to 2.85, which would net about $200,000 less than if the millage was set at 2.95.
“I have a real fear that government expands to fill the tax allowed,” Eyre said. “If we believe our budget is a fair and accurate representation of what we need to spend this year for the city, then I think we need to hold our millage at that rate.” City Manager Marie Garrett cautioned against setting the rate too low.
“I think that once you set this rate, the community will expect some predictability,” Garrett said. “I would be the last person in the room that would want to come back to you with a budget for 2014 and ask you to increase the millage.”
At a public hearing on the millage rate July 8, the council heard from residents who are unhappy with the way the new city is doing business.
“Every time I read something about Brookhaven, it’s something that isn’t working right, and I’m really tired of it,” said Lissie Stahlman. “There are a lot of us that are really fed up with this, and things don’t seem to be working out as you all planned.”
Mary Fakharian criticized the city’s legal entanglement with the Pink Pony strip club. Club owners sued after City Council passed an adult-business ordinance they claimed would put the club out of business. “You are taking a stand to close a business that provides income,” Fakharian said. “You are also utilizing income of those of us who are taxpayers for lawsuits, which I would call frivolous lawsuits.”