With two town hall meetings slated for the coming week, the head of Hoschton’s finance committee is calling for the town to impose a property tax to fund city expenses.
The Hoschton City Council will hold two “town hall meetings” at the depot to discuss the proposed city property tax. The first will be held on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. A second meeting is set for Monday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.
Last week, Tom Walden, the head of the Hoschton City Council’s finance committee, called for the town to impose a 2.1 mill property tax — the first in the last 30 years — to fund city expenses. The proposed Hoschton budget for 2009 calls for an 11 percent hike in city spending.
“With this, we are creating a reserve,” Walden said. “It is a minimal reserve, but it is a starter reserve.”
But councilman Jim Jester opposed the idea, saying the town should look at cutting its work week and other cutbacks to avoid imposing a property tax. (Jester wrote a letter to the editor this week about his views; see inside this edition.)
Mayor Bill Copenhaver said cutting the work week wouldn’t save much money.
“We will end up paying more because we won’t get the work done,” the mayor said.
But Jester disagreed.
“People take vacations and the work gets done,” he said. “People aren’t always here five days a week…I think we ought to not rule it out…I won’t vote for a property tax if this is all I have to work from.”
The debate over a city property tax is part of an ongoing problem the city has had for several years as it has faced severe financial problems and budget shortfalls in revenue.
In its current version, the proposed 2009 city general fund budget has expenses of $941,800, an 11 percent increase over 2008. The proposal eliminates pay raises for employees, patrol cars being taken home by policemen and some capital expenses.
On the revenue side, the proposal calls for $942,000 in income, including $111,500 from a 2.1 mill city property tax. The budget also calls for using $95,000 of its reserve funds.