published Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Dade County leaders approve property tax increase

Dade County, Ga., commissioners approved a 1.7-mil property tax increase Thursday night, County Commission Chairman and County Executive Ted Rumley said.

He said that means an increase of about $69 per year on a property worth $100,000. That will result in more than $700,000 in additional revenue for the county, he said.

The action comes in the wake of news that 42 county employees would lose jobs or be furloughed in an effort to reduce the county's budget. Rumley said those layoffs already have occurred and most of the jobs will not be filled in the future.

"What we'll do is we'll evaluate that in a year and see how that is going for the department," he said. "There might be a few of those spots that might come and go back, but a lot of them will not be."

The departments facing the biggest funding cuts include the sheriff's office, public works and public transportation. The Dade County Public Library will experience cuts, as well.

Donna Street, president of the Friends of the Library in Dade, said she has nothing negative to say about the commissioners, however.

"They needed to do it," she said. "I'm encouraged that they were brave enough to make the move."

Rumley said the cuts are a result of significantly reduced revenue for the county after the loss of major employers such as Shaw Industries Group, Inc., which closed its Trenton plant in 2008. He said that revenue still has not been made up. The plant made flooring, and with the recession and housing slump people still aren't buying flooring products, he said.

"The revenue's been extremely low in the last few years," he said. "Things are not the same workforce-wise as they were even five, six years ago."

On top of that, Street said, the tornado that hit the county in 2011 caused financial as well as physical damage.

"We have not caught back up from that," she said.

But Street said she believes the current commission is the best the county has had.

"The current county commissioners were left with a mess eight years ago," she said. "In my personal opinion, our commissioners have done a pretty darn good job."

Contact staff writer Hannah Smith at hsmith@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6731.

about Hannah Smith...

Hannah Smith is a staff reporter for the Times Free Press. She previously worked as a Pulliam Fellow at the Indianapolis Star and as a Middle East news reporter at the Global Post in Boston. She has also spent time in broadcast, interning at Channel 13 WTHR in Indianapolis, and radio, as a reporter for American Student Radio. Hannah graduated with honors from Indiana University in May with degrees in journalism and Arabic. There she ...

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