published Friday, March 28th, 2014

Walker County faces property tax increase

LaFAYETTE, Ga. — When the property tax bill comes in October 2015, Walker County, Ga., residents are going to owe more than they do this year.

How much more is uncertain at this point, but Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said an increase in the millage rate for fiscal year 2015 is inevitable. Currently, the county levies 4.7 mills and operates on a $20 million annual budget, which is $8 million less than the city of LaFayette.

“I haven’t raised taxes in over 10 years,” said Heiskell. “Our expenses are getting higher and higher as we operate on the same amount of money. If I don’t do it, somebody else will have to.”

She made the statement after her commissioner’s meeting Thursday when she authorized a line of credit for more than $7 million that the county will use to “pay current expenses of Walker County in calendar year 2014.”

Last year, a $3 million budget shortfall forced Heiskell to borrow money and employees were furloughed to help cut costs. The commissioner said she doesn’t plan to furlough anyone this year but is certain she’ll need to use the line of credit.

“We’ve been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, and we’re going to have to do something,” said Heiskell, in reference to the line of credit and a tax increase.

The county obtained the line of credit earlier than in years past in order to receive a lower interest rate of less than 1 percent, she explained.

Email Rachel Sauls-Wright at rsauls@timesfreepress.com.

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