Walker Joins Catoosa and Dade Counties in Seeking a Tax Increase
North Georgia residents are being asked to help government catch up, after years of economic woes and millions in damages from the 2011 tornadoes.
We spoke with sole commissioner Bebe Heiskell and local residents about the increase and its impact on the community.
BEBE HEISKELL, WALKER CO. COMMISSIONER "This is the most grievous thing I’ve had to do..and it has concerned me more than anything."
Sole commissioner Bebe Heiskell says Walker county has been hit especially hard in the last few years.
The nation’s economic collapse in 2008 and tornados in 2011 have postponed gradual tax increases over the years.
Now the citizens are facing a 3-mil increase in October.
BEBE HEISKELL "Bringing it up 3-mils..is a little over 4-million dollars that we gained. But 3-million of it we lost last year…this is a survival mode ..Its not a way to get more money..we’ve go to survive."
Heiskell says county employees haven’t had a cost of living raise raise in 6 years.
But that doesn’t make the proposed any easier to swallow.
ROGER MORRISON, WALKER COUNTY "Well its going to put a pinch on us financially. Everybody’s already stretched pretty slim anyway."
By one account it would be a 59 percent the tax increase.
Heiskell says it appears bigger than it actually is.
BEBE HEISKELL "Because our millage is so low..anything we add is going to raise it to a high percentage, .but when you put those millages together, your bottom line will be about 14%."
In actual numbers, that would amount to a 120-dollar a year tax increase on a 100-thousand dollar property.
Heiskell says the value of the average home in Walker county is 88-thousand dollars.
JASON LONG, LAFAYETTE BUSINESS OWNER "That is a little bit lower than Catoosa and some other places. It’s got to happen at some point I think …you know they’re not going to go down."
Commissioner Heiskell says a proposed sale of the county-owned Mountain Cove Farms fell through.
A tax infusion from that sale could have lessened the impact of a tax increase.