By M.J. Subiria Arauz
For the first time, Lovejoy's business and home owners will have to pay property taxes, according to a Lovejoy city councilman.
Councilman Tommy Green said that implementing a property tax and millage rate in the city will allow for the continuation of public safety protection, and a good quality of life for residents.
He said he is unsure when the property tax will begin, but it will be "minimal" for the services rendered by the city. "This will allow us to provide the services that the citizens want," said Green.
According to officials, the Lovejoy City Council announced, on July 22, its intentions to implement a millage rate. Although no millage rate has been set, yet, any property-tax levy will, technically, be a 100-percent increase, since the city has previously not relied on the tax.
Green said Lovejoy did not tax its residents for many years, and was one of the few municipalities in Georgia that did not have a millage rate. "At that time, we were a small city ... so, it was justifiable," he said.
Lovejoy has experienced strong population growth over the last 10 years, said Green. That forced the city to meet various demands for its citizens, including public safety improvements and other amenities, he said.
For the protection and safety of residents, the Lovejoy Police Department was created, and it began patrolling the city on March 15, 2010.
The millage rate will assist Lovejoy in keeping the department alive, among other things, said Green. "We brought a police force in, but there was no network revenue source to pay for it," he explained.
The millage rate will also help pay for expenditures associated with the Joe Murphy Public Safety Building, Mayor's Park, the Downtown Open Air Market, Lovejoy Community Center and Green Park. "These are some of the most evident [amenities]," he said.
Councilman Bobby Cartwright would not comment on the matter. The mayor and the rest of the city council could not be reached for comment.
Councilman Green said the city wanted to avoid implementation of a property tax, but growth demands and the economy made it a necessity. "As time goes on," he said, citizens will continue to see improvements in the city. When you have revenue, there are so many things you can do to run cities," he stressed.
Business and property owners will have the option of paying their property taxes through a bill sent directly to them, or through their mortgage, he said. If citizens decide to pay the taxes through their mortgage, their escrow accounts should take care of the matter, he added.
The taxes paid by each property owner will, of course, depend on the value of property taxed, he said.
The city is inviting all citizens to attend public hearings on this matter, on Friday, July 29, at 11 a.m., and 6 p.m.; and on Aug. 8, at 7:30 p.m. The meetings will be held in the chambers of the Public Safety Building, at 2296 Talmadge Road, Lovejoy.
For more information, contact the City of Lovejoy, at (770) 471-2304.