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The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners' proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 is an increase over last year's, but property owners will actually see a decrease on their tax bills.

A sole public hearing will be held Aug. 12, and the commissioners will vote to adopt the proposed budget and millage rate Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Catoosa County Administrative Building meeting room. The budget can be found online at catoosa.com/finance and at the Catoosa County Courthouse.

The proposed general fund budget of $28,523,706 is up $1.5 million over last year's. The proposed millage rate, meanwhile, is 6.484, a 0.25 decrease from last year. Based on the 2019 tax digest, 1 mill brings in $1.8 million.

Catoosa County assesses property value at 40%, so on a $150,000 valued home, residents would pay $376 a year under the proposed millage rate, saving those homeowners $14.50, County Manager Alicia Vaughn said at a July 30 work session.

Catoosa County Schools sets its own millage rate which also gets added to tax bills. During the school board's budget process in July, Director of Finance Blake Stansell said he expected the board would adjust the millage rate so that tax revenues remain neutral based on the new countywide assessments, which means no increase in property taxes from the district, either.

Forty-seven percent of the county budget is funded by property taxes, but sales tax plays into the overall picture and millage rate, said the county's chief financial officer, Carol Roberts. Sales tax revenue has increased 16% in the last year, she said.

A new line item in the proposed budget could bring even more sales tax into the county. The budget includes $4,000 for the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce to establish a marketing campaign to promote the county. Roberts said the county doesn't have a welcome center and the additional promotion of businesses would hopefully drive up tourism.

As proposed, the budget also includes additional staff positions in the fire department, animal control, library and public works, as well as a new county public information officer who will serve as a point for communication and transparency.

There is additional funding for upgraded maintenance to parks and recreational offerings, including the Elsie Holmes Nature Park and Northwest Georgia Amphitheatre, as well as an increase in the county elections budget in line with nationwide security reforms, according to Vaughn.

Roberts said the budget was made with input from all administrative departments and officials via multiple workshops and meetings throughout the summer.

Correspondent Davis Lundy contributed to this story.

Email Sabrina Bodon at sbodon@timesfreepress.com.

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