Cobb sets two public hearings on tax increase plan

Cobb County commissioners will vote at the end of the month whether to increase the county’s millage rate as part of a plan to restore services and stave off a budget deficit.

The tax hike would equal about an $83 increase to the tax bills on homes valued between $140,000 and $160,000; and a $111 increase for homes in the $190,000 to $210,000 value range.

The increase is necessary to help close a $33 million budget deficit for fiscal 2012, which begins in October, said Commission Chairman Tim Lee. The tax hike would also allow the county to eliminate the last two furlough days — Aug. 5 and Sept. 2 — of this budget year; restore operating hours at county parks, libraries and aquatic centers; and, mow more of the county’s rights-of-way and medians. The tax increase would also keep the county from dipping into its reserves for $2 million to finish out this fiscal year.

Lee’s tax hike plan also would fund 99 vacant public safety positions over the next two years.

To save money, the plan calls for eliminating 70 vacant positions in other departments, reassessing employee’s salary and benefits and ending the practice of rehiring retired employees, which was found to save much less than the county anticipated.

Commissioners will vote on the millage hike July 26. Public hearings to discuss the plan are set for July 19 at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.  and 7 p.m. on July 26 at the County government building, 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta.