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Hiram Proposes Property Tax Rollback

The city intends to roll its millage rate back to zero.

Hiram residents likely will continue not paying property taxes.

City officials are proposing that the city council set the city's millage rate at 2.479 mills and then roll it back to zero, as it as always done. No one spoke regarding the proposed millage at a public hearing on Wednesday night.

"There are no property taxes, which is probably why there was no public comment," City Manager Robbie Rokovitz said. "I didn’t have anyone come in and say, 'You really need to charge us property taxes.'"

Despite declining tax revenues, city officials have stayed away from implementing a property tax by dipping into the city's reserve fund. However, Rokovitz said that's not something the city can do indefinitely.

"(We) have cash reserves but those cash reserves, like anyone’s savings account, (will) run out," Rokovitz said.

City officials are hoping Local Option Sales Tax renegotiations with Paulding County will enable them to continue to roll back the millage rate while maintaing the fund balance. The city currently receives 3.24 percent, or $480,000 of the county's LOST revenue, but Rokovitz said that, with all of its businesses, Hiram's cut should be at least twice that amount.

"Hiram is the economic engine of the county," he said.

The extra LOST revenues would equal what the city would bring in if it charged property taxes.

"That’s how we’re going to be able to meet budget and provide services without dipping into our reserves," Rokovitz said.

The city, along with the city of Dallas and Paulding County, have been in negotiation talks for several months. Rokovitz said that a decision must be reached by Dec. 31.

"We feel comfortable and are working hard toward that end to increase the Local Option Sales Tax," he said.

Next Thursday, the council is expected to vote on the city's budget for 2012, something that is normally done before the beginning of July but was delayed this year because of leadership changes, including the addition of Rokovitz, who started with the city last month.

The $5.349 million budget includes $1.75 million in expenditures for the police department; $704,856.58 in expenditures for the administrative department; $1.51 million in expenditures for public works; $400,261.17 in expenditures for municipal court; and 113,005.45 in expenditures for the mayor and city council.

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