City to raise millage rate

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By JOHN TYLER NILSEN, Citizen Correspondent

Chiefland City commissioners voted Monday to raise millage rates from six mills to 6.985 mills in a 3-2 vote.

Commissioners were apprehensive to bring forward a resolution to raise property taxes until Commissioner Donald Lawrence eventually made the motion to move toward the roll-up rate.

“Every single person is trying to make cuts and do everything they can. We’ve got a bunch of really good people and we don’t want to lose them to anywhere else,” Lawrence said.

“I’m all for the $5 sewer increase that we haven’t had in 14 years. I’m trying to back off talking about this,” Commissioner Rollin Hudson said.

Commissioner Teresa Barron said she was uncomfortable with raising millage to nearly seven mills rates after the city raised rates as recently as 2013.

Mayor Betty Walker and vice mayor Chris Jones had expressed concerns with city funding throughout the budget workshop process.

“Nobody wants to go up on any of their taxes. However, with the cost of operations, we’re going to have a failure to sit up here if we can’t afford to operate,” Jones said.

Walker was confident that Chiefland citizens would understand the reasoning for the increase.

“They know we’re trying to run the city right,” Walker said.

The commission can choose to lower the millage rate after the completion of the budget.

Accounting specialist Laurie Copeland said at the June 26 budget meeting that property values and the number of taxable residential properties have decreased for the city over each of the past eight years.

The new budget will increase all city salaries to at least $10 an hour, as was discussed in budget workshops in April and May. Non-union city employees who make more than $10 an hour received a 2 percent pay increase, along with longevity raises (a tenth of a percent per year at the position.)

The commission approved an increase in the cost for sewage rates. Sewage rates were last raised in 2003. The added funds will go towards improvements to the city sewage infrastructure.