Fight Cobb Tax Hike

Commission Chairman Tim Lee is proposing raising the millage rate by 17 percent on the property owners in the county.

In case you haven’t heard, Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee is proposing a 17 percent millage rate hike on the property owners in the county.

If approved by the Board of Commissions, it will increase the taxes on a $200,000 home by about $111; a larger home would be more. I guess Lee feels that since the bad economy has significantly decreased home values over the past three years, we wouldn’t notice a 17 percent millage rate increase.  

Perhaps that’s true for families who still have jobs, but for those who are out of work or underemployed and struggling to make ends meet, it’s just another slap in the face by an out-of-touch government.  

That our county government doesn’t realize that we are now in the clutches of the worst and longest economic slump since the Great Depression was evident when it pushed so hard for the costly special election, which resulted in the 2011 SPLOST.

Lee’s unrelenting insistence on continuing that tax is indicative of a tax-and-spend pattern that seems to be defining his term. 

The chairman appears to have developed a penchant for saying one thing and then doing quite the opposite. Last November, I sat in Lee’s office along with two other Georgia Tea Party members and discussed the proposed SPLOST with him. 

We asked him point blank if he was going to ask for a property tax increase if the SPLOST didn’t pass. He said no, and that the county enjoyed the lowest millage rate in the metro Atlanta area and he would not recommend raising it, regardless of the outcome. 

Yet, SPLOST supporters (Lee’s surrogates) threatened us with tax increases if the SPLOST wasn’t passed. They implied that if the SPLOST was passed, no tax increase would be necessary. 

Many Cobb voters fell for that lie and now not only do we have the penny sales tax, but also the real prospect of a property tax increase to boot.

Last December, Lee promised Commissioner Bob Ott that if Ott would vote in favor of the SPLOST election, he (Lee) would appoint a Citizen Oversight Committee to look into Cobb’s budget and find ways to cut costs. 

They were to report before the March 15 SPLOST vote. Lee conveniently didn’t empanel the committee until after the vote, and they didn’t make their first report until June 26. Adding insult to injury, Lee currently is marginalizing the committee’s work and virtually ignoring it.

I’ve been to some of the Oversight Committee meetings, and they’re doing good work. Their recommendations should not be ignored.  Unfortunately, Lee is calling for a vote on the tax increase about a month before the Oversight Committee is scheduled to complete its work. 

The question is: Are you going to stand up against, or at least question, the heavy-handed tactics of Cobb’s commission chairman? If you don’t care, just sit on your hands and do nothing. If you do care, there are lots of things you can do:

  • Attend County Commission meetings. They meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. The next regular meeting is this morning at 9 a.m. There will be two special public hearings on the property tax increase on July 19 at 8 a.m. and at 6 p.m. Be there and share your thoughts with the Board of Commissioners. Then at the next regular commission meeting on July 26 at 7 p.m., the commissioners will vote on the tax increase measure. 
  • Read the Citizens Oversight Committee report.
  • Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, opposing the tax rate hike.
  • Email the commissioner of your district and register your objections. In the Powder Springs area, your Commissioner is either Helen Goreham or Woody Thompson. Helen Goreham currently supports a tax increase and Woody Thompson is non-committal. Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Ott appear to oppose the hike at this time.

As an individual, you may feel powerless to stop this, but one thing’s for sure, if you do nothing, your taxes will increase and you will have only yourself to blame.

Tom Maloy, a retired businessman and 30-year Powder Springs resident, is a board member of the Georgia Tea Party. Contact him at tom@thegeorgiateaparty.org.

David Lombrozo July 14, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Susan, You're right. Austell, Marietta and Smyrna have their own FDs, pay their own way and don't pay Fire taxes to the counties. The other cities don't have their own FDs and do pay the fire taxes. Except for Mariette having their own Schools and not paying the School taxes to the city,all the other cities pay all the other taxes that those not in city limits pay.
Pam J July 14, 2011 at 02:11 PM
Regardless of all the for and against comments being made, it's just a bad time to raise any kind of tax. Especially after Mr. Lee said that he would not raise the property tax millage rate. How about giving the residents of Cobb County a break for a year. I've been unemployed for more than a year now, so the chance that I may get a check from my mortgage company next year because of the overage in my escrow account makes me happy. My brother's value went down last year and he got a check for over $700 AND his payment went down. And it doesn't matter if the county devalued a lot of homes because there are so many foreclosures and it's difficult to sell your house, much less make a profit. So I guess I have decided I don't want the increase. And my party affiliation has nothing to do with it. My bank account does.
David Lombrozo July 14, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Pam, per the above, Tim Lee never said he would never raise taxes. I note that all the tax cuts in the last several years didn't save your job or mine or many others in Cobb County. All the low tax rates in Cobb County didn't keep our values up. You probably will save more money in annual fees by closing an extra bank account or cancelling an unused credit card than Tim Lee is asking for an increase. I am also pinching pennies, but I don't want all the weeds on public property to lower my property values just so I can pay less taxes or get a refund on my escrow account.
Marlene Mitchell July 14, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Wow, I'm getting in on the tail end of this heated debate. Taxes vs No New Taxes. I'll weigh in with my 2 cents worth. I'm going to side with the "No New Taxes" crowd. I have lived in Cobb County for close to thirty years. Low taxes and a great school district were the main reasons we picked Cobb. As the decades slipped by and our county prospered our tax obligation went right up also. Now that things aren't looking so good for a large portion of our community and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight for any type of recovery any time soon I think we need to reconsider what the county's obligation really is to the taxpayers. I, for one, am getting more than a little tired of having the teachers, fire department and police department taken hostage every time the county wants an influx of new funds. The County purposely spends close to $500,000 on a special SPLOST elections to insure its passing. The reason I say 'purposely' is Mr. Lee said it was done on purpose so it would pass. I was at the town hall meeting when he admitted to it. If the county is so hard up for cash they certainly aren't showing good faith to the tax payers by spending close to a half a million on an election that should and could have been included in the general election. Tax money should be spent wisely and I no longer believe our elected leaders are being good stewards of our tax dollar. Cutting back doesn't equal doing without. We need to choose wisely.
Lori Roberts July 18, 2011 at 01:04 PM
Might we recommend implementing the spending cuts as recommended by the Oversight Committee FIRST, and then review Cobb County's fiscal situation before rushing to increase the millage rate. Politicians like to panic citizens with "potential cuts affecting our safety" -- when there are other non-essential services that could be cut. I still like the idea of generating extra revenue by getting the business community to sponsor certain public venues: e.g. libraries could be financially sponsored by tutoring businesses. (Just give the the business a corner within the building to conduct their educational activities.)


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