DeKalb proposes property tax increase

by: Erica Byfield Updated:

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. —

Every DeKalb County property owner may soon see a tax increase.
 
On Friday, DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis proposed a 1.69 millage rate increase.
 
Currently, the millage rate for unincorporated county residences is 21.21.
 
For someone who owns a $200,000 house, taxes for 2013 could increase by $49 a year.
 
For residents in an incorporated area, or a city, taxes would also increase depending on which county services residents of your incorporated area use.
 
Ellis proposed the tax hike as a part of the 2013 budget.  He told a packed room the increase is needed because property tax digests are still down and Brookhaven became a city.
 
"The creation of Brookhaven this year is going to cost the county somewhere in the neighborhood of $23 million to $25 million in lost revenue this year," Ellis said.
 
Along with the tax increase, Ellis would like to see $22.8 million in spending cuts.  He suggested making those cuts by investing in technology, outsourcing services like EMS and refinancing.
 
The budget proposal also calls for a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for any county employee making less than $37,700 a year.  In the meeting, a county staffer said there are about 2,500 people who would receive a pay increase.
 
Ellis told the group county employees have not had a raise in five years.
 
In regard to public safety, Ellis said the fire department should not see any changes, and he would like to re-fund 25 police department jobs.  The county recently pulled funding from more than 150 vacant police officer positions.
 
The county's commissioners must discuss and adopt a 2013 budget by the end of February.