Macon-Bibb County voters could decide the fate of a new sales tax that would lead to a millage rate rollback and property tax freeze.
The County Commission is scheduled to vote next week on whether to investigate the possibility of an additional 1-cent sales tax — one of several hurdles that must be cleared before the tax is implemented.
Before the referendum could be added to November 2018 Bibb County ballot, it must first receive approval from the County Commission and state legislators.
A resolution asking the county to hire a legal firm to examine the potential tax was approved by the commission’s Operations and Finance Committee on Tuesday.
The proposal comes after the millage rate went up 3-mills this year. The amount of revenue taken in from the local option sales tax would determine the extent of the property tax rollback.
“This is a vehicle for property tax relief, I think more consistent cash flow and addressing some of the concerns of our property owners,” Bechtel said. “But we need to go into this with our eyes open.”
He added, “I think it’s never too early to start doing the investigation, research to determine all that’s involved.”
The new tax would go into effect in 2019, and a millage rate rollback would occur in 2020, County Attorney Judd Drake said.
“What we would be looking at doing is using local legislation to adopt a homestead frozen exemption,” he said. “ In other words, the baseline value of an individual’s property in Macon-Bibb County would be set and each subsequent year they would get an exemption for any increase in value.”
Forest Hill Road
The Operations and Finance Committee gave the green light Tuesday on a $689,000 contract for design work on the second phase of Forest Hill Road construction.
The agreement says Stantec Consulting would perform engineering and survey work along Forest Hill from Forsyth Road to Wimbish Road. The county will also have a better estimate of the cost of project after preliminary designs are finished, County Engineer David Fortson said.
Phase 2 conceptual designs presented in December 2016 proposed widening Forest Hill from Vineville Avenue to Wimbish Road from two to three lanes. Those designs included signal upgrades and a turn lane at Forsyth Road and Ridge Avenue, a new traffic signal at Charter Boulevard and sidewalks along Forest Hill Road. A center two-way left turn lane could also be added.
Georgia Department of Transportation officials said earlier this year they expected the first phase of the Forest Hill widening to be completed by the start of November.
In other business Tuesday, County Commission committees moved the following items onto next week’s regular commission agenda:
▪ Appropriating $307,110 of 2017 special sales tax bond proceeds to purchase new Bibb County sheriff’s vehicles;
▪ Providing a $1 million match as part of a $1.75 million federal grant that the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority will use to buy two electric buses and install charging stations. The county’s money would come from the bond proceeds related to the 2018 special purpose local option sales tax.
▪ Using $175,000 of SPLOST bond funds to buy basketball goals and floor in preparation for the return of the state high school basketball tournament at the Macon Coliseum.
▪ Changes to employee health insurance, including the amount of co-pay for emergency room and urgent care visits, and eliminating the co-pay for an online service. Committee members also approved a new lunch program where employees can learn more about health care, and providing some incentives based on the number of steps an employee walks daily.