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Monday May 4th, 2015 1:00AM

Opponents speak their minds at Hall Co. budget hearing

By B.J. Williams News Director
GAINESVILLE - As Hall County commissioners prepare to vote on a FY 2015 budget Thursday, they heard from a number of opponents to the plan at a second public hearing Monday afternoon.<br /> <br /> The hearing took place at 3 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center prior to the commission's regularly-scheduled work session.<br /> <br /> Property owners from various parts of the county took to the microphone to voice their displeasure over a tax increase that will come with the 2014-15 budget plan.<br /> <br /> David Williams was one of several speakers, and he told commissioners he didn't understand the logic in a tax hike now. He reminded the commission of a time several years ago when commissioners refused to raise taxes even by small amount, even though it meant hurting county employees and residents.<br /> <br /> "Services were cut...somewhere around 100 positions were lost...you cut parks out...you cut overtime out, $600,000...and we were just talking about an $11 tax increase at that time," said Williams.<br /> <br /> Alicia Morris, who lives in northwest Hall County, told commissioners they needed to tighten their belts, just as they have advised residents to do over the past several years.<br /> <br /> "Everything has gone up for everybody from gas to groceries...and y'all have told us 'tighten your belts, cut back, you can make it.' I'm asking you [to] tighten your belts, cut back and you can make it," said Morris.<br /> <br /> When commissioners vote on the budget Thursday night, they have two options from which to choose to finalize the $90.6 million document. One option holds the property tax rate at 6.26 mills, while the second rolls the rate back to 5.98 mills; reassessments, primarily those of lake properties, mean taxes will still be higher for most property owners. Both options require using some money from the county's reserve fund.<br /> <br />
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