After initially planning to go without a property tax increase for the upcoming fiscal year budget, city of Georgetown officials are now leaning toward including a small tax hike.
The tax increase would allow the city to avoid using reserve funds to balance the $33 million budget. The proposed 3.4 percent increase to the city's millage rate -- currently 95 mills -- would bring in $122,000 in additional revenue, according to city Finance Director Debra Bivens. The rate hike would add $13.60 to the tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $100,000.
During a budget workshop Thursday, City Council shifted toward raising the tax as a way to have a "truly balanced" budget. Without the increase, the city would have to allocate $105,000 in reserve funds to balance the budget.
City Council last increased property taxes in 2017, from 93 to 95 mills.
The first vote on the budget will be held later this month. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
Currently, the proposed budget also includes a 5 percent increase for both water and wastewater rates as the city tries to keep up the cost of running and maintaining the utilities.
The rate hike adds just under $1 to the monthly water bill of an average home in the city -- using 3,000 gallons a month -- and $1.38 to the average residential wastewater bill.
"It's not like we're talking about hundreds and hundreds of dollars," Councilman Al Joseph said about the combined cost to homeowners if council were to approve the tax and rate increases.
The additional revenue for the city would be around $350,000.
Talking about how citizens could view the rate hikes, Councilman Sheldon Butts said, "No one wants to see every year, every other year, some things going up, their pockets going down."
Interim City Administrator Carey Smith noted that the tax increase is not necessary.
"We don't need it to balance the budget," he said.
But Bivens said that doing so would give the city a small budget surplus, which could be put back into reserves or allocated somewhere else based on council's choosing.