September 7, 2018 10:45:28 AM
Slim Smith - [email protected]
Caledonia's property tax millage will remain unchanged for the seventh year in a row, although that decision required the town's board of aldermen to dip into its reserve fund to do it.
The board voted 4-1 Tuesday at its regular meeting to keep the millage at 6.75, which is the third lowest millage rate in the state. Mills are based on property value and are used to determine the amount of taxes a citizen pays.
"We went into the meeting prepared for a tax increase, but as it turned out, after discussing it among the board members, we decided to keep it where it is," Mayor Mitch Wiggins said. "We were able to make up the shortfall in the budget by going into the fund balance for about $16,000."
The value of a mill in Caledonia is $23,500, the mayor said. Expected revenue from local millage is $158,625.
The last change in millage in Caledonia came in 2011, when the millage was dropped from 9.1 to its current rate.
Alderman Matt Furnari, the lone no vote, said he felt an increase in the millage was justified.
"Caledonia is a growing community," Furnari said. "What I would like to have seen done is for us to look at this with an eye for the future. I believe raising the millage would make the town financially stronger. There are not always going to be good times, so the more we have in reserve, the better position we will be in do some of the things people in a growing community like ours want to have."
Furnari said even if the town had raised millage by the 10 percent maximum allowed by state law, the tax burden would remain low, especially when compared to the other municipalities in the county.
"I think the taxes on my home would go up by $9 a year with that increase," he said. "That would take our millage up to 7.4. It would still be the fifth lowest in the state. Then you compare it to rest of the county -- Columbus is at 46. Crawford is at 38, Artesia at 30. We're not even in that ballpark. We don't want to be in that ballpark and we still wouldn't be in that ballpark if we had raised the millage. I just believe it was the right thing to do, but I couldn't convince my fellow board members to agree with me. "
Wiggins said he understood Furnari's position, as did the rest of the board.
"I don't think it was an argument as much as it was a difference of opinion," Wiggins said.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]