Bibb to seek temporary tax billing

Bibb County will seek judicial approval to issue a temporary tax billing as it awaits the completion of a new tax digest, Commission Chairman Sam Hart said Wednesday.

Hart, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, schools Superintendent Sharon Patterson and Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders will meet today to iron out the details.

“I think this would be in the best interest of all of us,” Hart said. “It’ll keep the cash flow coming in at the anticipated times.”

Bibb currently can’t collect taxes because the more than 16,000 appeals generated from the recent countywide property revaluation are preventing the digest from being completed and approved by the state.

However, a state law allows counties to petition Superior Court for a temporary tax billing if they won’t be able to cover the cost of operating government.

If Bibb is unable to collect taxes soon, the school board and the city of Macon may have a tough time making ends meet, officials said.

“We won’t have any money to pay bills,” Reichert said. “I’m being a little flip and dramatic, but, sure, it’s a cash flow problem.”

The city’s expenses for the summer months “far exceed” its revenue, Reichert said. While the reserves are sufficient to get the city through September, they might not cover the city’s expenses if tax collections are delayed, he said.

Local governments usually begin receiving money from property taxes around October, he said.

Without the funds, the city may have to take out a short-term loan, called a tax anticipation note, which officials would like to avoid.

“We need to get additional revenue in as soon as practical,” Reichert said.

The county’s situation is not as dire. Bibb has a strong reserve, which probably could cover its expenses, Hart said. But doing so would greatly reduce that cushion, which is important to the county’s bond rating. Bibb also would lose interest that the money could have earned had it stayed in the bank, Hart said.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors continues to review appeals disputing new property values.

The county must have fewer than 5 percent of the tax digest’s total value, excluding the value of local public utilities, or fewer than 5 percent of the total number of parcels under appeal before the digest can be submitted to the state for approval.

Bibb faced the same situation during the 2006 revaluation, which was eventually thrown out. That year, taxes were based on the 2005 tax digest.