Thomasville City Council Votes to Eliminate Fire Tax

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Thomasville, GA - October 1, 2012

On September 24, 2012 the City Council passed a vote to set the 2012 City Fire Tax millage rate at 0.0 mills, realizing a goal the City Council set in 2009 to eliminate the ad valorem fire tax by 2012. In 2009 when the goal to eliminate the fire tax was set, the City collected more than $1.7 million in fire taxes. The fire tax levy was reduced to approximately $995,000 in 2010, to approximately $610,000 in 2011, and now to $0 in 2012.

“The City Council is very pleased that we’ve been able to meet the goal of eliminating the fire tax for the City of Thomasville’s property owners. The City is in an enviable position when compared to other communities because we have the ability to fund many of our General Government operations from utilities revenues. Without the City’s enterprise funds like Electric and CNS, we would not have been able to meet this goal,” said Thomasville’s Mayor, Max Beverly.

Margins above the cost to deliver services generated from City-owned utilities – electric, water, wastewater, natural gas, solid waste and CNS services – are transferred into the General Fund in order to provide funding for police and fire protection, street maintenance and other essential governmental services. For the 2012 year, the City of Thomasville has budgeted utilities transfers to the General Fund of approximately $7.8 million.

“Where many communities have to depend on tax revenues to fund their operations, we are able to fund many services from utilities revenues,” said Steve Sykes, City Manager/Utilities Superintendent.

Most importantly, not only do Thomasville’s citizens now pay no ad valorem taxes to fund City services, but rates for the City’s utilities services are very competitive when compared to other providers Sykes added.

According to the Georgia Public Service Commission’s most recent residential electric rate survey of all electric providers in Georgia, the City of Thomasville’s cost for a residential electric customer using 1000 kilowatt hours is $105. The survey shows that the statewide average cost of all providers is $115, which means Thomasville’s customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours save nearly $100 per year over the statewide average cost, and these are savings on electricity only. The City estimates that customers save between 10 and 25 percent on its other services compared to costs in other communities.

In addition to these savings from utilities services, the elimination of the fire tax will save residential property owners an average of approximately $100 per year and businesses about $500 per year.

At the same meeting, the City ratified the recommendation of the Thomasville City School Board to levy 17.525 mills of Thomasville City School tax. The City is responsible for levying and collecting Thomasville City School tax on behalf of the Thomasville City Schools. City school tax bills are expected to be mailed by October 5th.