Dec 4, 2007 1
Macon’s mayor-elect Robert Reichert spoke at our Monday Rotary Club and clarified Macon’s fiscal predicament more in 10 minutes than I have heard in 10 years. The tax base in Macon is growing at 2.1%, less than inflation, causing the city to increase the millage rate to sustain services that have escalated at least with the rate of inflation (salaries, fuel, etc).
The county tax base has grown at 4.1%, above the inflation rate, allowing them to sustain services without raising the millage rate. This is not surprising since the county has more room to grow and is thus more likely to see new development.
The directive Reichert faces to solve the city’s long term issue is to increase the tax base. This will mean annexing properties in the short run, and attracting population growth and business development to the city in the long run. An increase in the city millage rate will not be a surprise.
The city is excited to have Reichert at the helm, especially after two terms of our current Mayor: the contrast could not be greater.
He has a mandate to do what he needs and the smart time to annex is early in his adminstration while the bride and groom are still smiling. I urge him to be fair in annexing: if you are going annex the homes in the peripheral parts, annex the elite Idle Hour Country Club with its obvioulsy gerrymandered property lines.
I have long resisted property tax increases, but the demise of the city tax base affects us greatly. Annexation is only a short term fix if Macon is not made to attact new growth by other means such as better policing, solid infrastructure and fiscally sound management.
Robert quoted, “It doesn’t make any difference which end of the boat springs the leak.” It is to the advantage of everyone in the boat to fix it.