Macon-Bibb sets millage rate

County commissioners unanimously set Macon-Bibb's millage rate Tuesday.

It's 14.652 mils for those in the former unincorporated county and 19.502 for those in the former city limits.

"We were only able to eliminate half of the former city of Macon taxes this year but we'll be reducing the other half next year in 2016 so we're all paying the same rate," Mayor Robert Reichert said.

Former mayor C. Jack Ellis thinks that's a year too late.

"We are no longer a city and a county. We're consolidated now," Ellis said. "That was the whole purpose of consolidation that we'd have one unified tax service."

He says it's unfair that those in the former city have to pay a fire protection tax they didn't have to pay before.

But Reichert says because they project less revenue coming in, they had to spread out cuts over two years.

"I disagree that it's unfair. and I also think it's immensely more fair to eliminate taxes over two years than to continue double taxation indefinitely," Reichert said.

He says making the full cuts this fiscal year would impact daily county business.

"We've already made significant cuts. To further reduce that would dramatically reduce services and personnel," he says. "We're trying to encourage sales tax, business licenses and franchise fees and trying to get those to come up."

Still, Ellis says the promise of equal taxes post-consolidation seems unfulfilled.

"What am I getting for my money? And what am I paying for?" Ellis asked. "What are [those in the former county] getting that they are not paying for? They're getting the same services I'm getting from this city and county and they're not paying what I'm paying, and it's not right."

Ellis suggested making the tax rates even across the board and finding alternate sources of revenue to make up for the loss, like taxing gambling machines in convenience stores that are only paid at the state level. He also suggested taxing cable companies for their internet and phone services, instead of just for television.

But Reichert said it's outside of the county's authority to tax those machines, because they're licensed by the state.

He promised though it's a slow journey, he's moving towards a bigger, better Macon-Bibb.

"This isn't without glitches," he said. "As we iron out glitches, it's going to obviously get more well-known to people the positive effects of consolidation."

Reichert estimates those who live in the former city limits will be paying about 80 dollars less on a $100,000 home.


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