Duluth schedules public hearings on 0.8 mill tax increase

DULUTH -- The Duluth City Council on Monday scheduled public hearings on a proposed tax millage increase of 0.8 mills for 2010 to support the city's fiscal year 2011 budget.

If approved later this month, the city's tax millage rate would increase from 5.191 mills to $5.991 mills.

The potential increase, which is slightly higher than the .75 of a mill proposed at the council's May 24 meeting, followed receipt of Duluth's tax digest from Gwinnett County indicating that property tax values on reassessed homes in the city had decreased an average of 10 percent, according to a report prepared by City Administrator Phil McLemore.

The appraised value of a $150,000 home dropped to $135,000, McLemore reported. For example, the tax on a house with an appraised value of $150,000 in 2008 taxed at the previous rate of 5.191 mills was $311.46 compared to $323.51 for a $135,000 house taxed at the proposed 2010 rate of 5.991 mills. The difference would be $12.05 per year or $1 a month more.

Public hearings on the proposed millage rate increase are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 24 and 7 p.m. June 28. Citizens are welcome to comment at the hearings.

The council postponed adoption of a proposed $36 million FY2011 budget on which a public hearing already has been held until June 28 so the budget and tax millage rate can be considered at the same time. The city's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

Duluth's proposed FY2011 budget includes $17.9 million in operating expenses and $15.8 million in operating revenue. The city plans to use $2.1 million in reserve funds to make up the revenue shortfall.

The $36 million total budget includes operating expenses, capital expenditures, debt service and other costs.

The proposed budget was developed with input from city staff, the city council and a citizens budget committee. The committee recommended that the city maintain services, implement a tax increase up to 1.5 mills and keep at least four months in reserve funds on hand.