COVINGTON — Newton County commissioners approved a millage rate last week that will result in a tax increase for some county property owners.
Although the millage rate — 13.43 mills — is slightly less than last year’s rate of 13.441, taxpayers whose properties were assessed at a greater value will see an increase in their tax bills, and the county will collect more taxes overall.
The vote on the millage rate initially deadlocked, with District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards and District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz opposed and District 2 Commissioner Demond Mason and District 5 Commissioner Ronnie Cowan in favor. District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson abstained. Chairman Marcello Banes broke the tie in favor of the millage rate.
A similar scenario played out in July when commissioners approved the $68.9 million fiscal year 2020 budget — Edwards and Schulz were opposed, while Cowan and Mason were in favor, with Henderson abstaining. At that time, Banes said it was the first tie-breaking vote he had cast during his tenure.
The fiscal year 2020 budget, which is 5.7 percent greater than the revised 2019 budget, is based on an overall projected 9 percent increase in the value of all taxable property in the county.
Some highlights of the budget include:
♦ Step level increases for all employees for a total of $1,823,101;
♦ A health insurance premium increase of approximately $445,000;
♦ Funding to initiate a fleet management program at $200,000;
♦ An increase of $300,000 transferred to the Capital Improvement Fund;
♦ Contingency funding of $409,014; and
♦ Seven new positions, totaling $373,589 — two tag/tax technicians in the Tax Commissioner’s Office; a Magistrate Court judge; a deputy clerk for the Clerk of Court’s Office; a field instructor for Fire Services; a part-time custodian for Facilities Management; and a GIS analyst for the GIS Department.