Morrow won't raise taxes

By Justin Reedy

The city of Morrow won't be raising taxes in the upcoming budget year, a city official said, and will instead deal with a revenue slump by cutting the city's operating budget.

The city faces revenue projections for the next fiscal year that are more than $600,000 lower than previous years, according to City Manager John Lampl.

Most local and state governments across the country are dealing with low tax revenue because of the struggling economy. Morrow has also been dealing with lower sales tax revenue after going through negotiations with Clayton County and the other municipalities on how to divide the 1 percent Local Option Sales Tax, or LOST, collected on retail sales within the county.

Every 10 years the county is required to rework the LOST agreement by taking into account new population statistics from the U.S. Census. Last December, the county and cities finalized the agreement, which led to a decrease in the share of sales tax revenue received by Morrow n from 5.1 percent of the total collected in the county to only 3.4 percent.

And though the city of Morrow could have made up that revenue loss by raising property taxes on its residents and property owners, Mayor Jim Millirons and the city council went a different direction, Lampl said.

"The good news is there's no tax increase," he said.

Instead, the city is cutting some spending in administrative areas and in capital improvements, Lampl explained, without reducing any essential services such as police and fire protection or public works. The city's total expenditures will be around $7.5 million when the budget is finalized in June, Lampl said, which is down about $600,000 to $700,000 from last year's revenue estimate.

"I'm pleased with the budget," Lampl said. "I think it was a very tough budget for us."

Though some positions within the city government are going to be temporarily eliminated, he said, there won't be any layoffs. Some city employees in administrative positions have been hired away by larger municipalities because of their success at the city of Morrow, and those positions will just be left open for now.

And with the implementation of some new technological systems n such as automation in the processing of police reports and citations n some other administrative positions won't be needed any longer. Employees in those spots will be shifted to fill the positions of people who left.

Though the budget is tight this year, Lampl said the city will still be able to give raises to its employees n something that isn't always possible in lean financial times.

"We're going to try to do our very best for our employees," Lampl said. "They work very hard for us. (Being able to give them a raise) is a good thing in a tight economy, when most people aren't getting one."