NORMAN PARK -- The Norman Park community vehemently opposed a proposed increase to their property taxes at a public hearing Monday.

The tax increase being proposed by the Norman Park City Council is due to increased property values following a Colquitt County Tax Assessor's Office reassessment, City Clerk Janis Jackson said. The current millage rate, which has stayed the same for at least two years, will remain the same.

The actual increase in taxes will result from the city council taking taxes from the reassessed property value, Jackson said. This will result in an average tax increase of 17.68 percent for residents, but some residents will see increases as low as 5 percent to as high as 35 percent.

Georgia state law requires local governing bodies to hold three public hearings for tax increases over 2 percent, and Jackson said a third and final public hearing is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. The hearing will be held at the Norman Park Municipal Building, located at 154 E. Broad St. The council held two previous hearings Sept. 13 at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

About 40 residents, plus Norman Park Mayor Danny Griner and one Norman Park councilman, crowded into the municipal building for the 6:30 p.m. public hearing Monday. All the residents expressed their displeasure with the council for even considering such an increase in their taxes. A petition was passed around the room and signed by all the citizens expressing their opposition to the increase.

Some of the residents voiced their desire to see a decrease in the millage rate with the increased reassessed property values. Jackson said she figured the millage would have to drop to 12.5 mills in order for the city to collect the same amount in property taxes.

Griner said he and the city council were sympathetic with the community over the tax increase, but an increase is necessary in order for the city to collect money for city services.

Many in the crowd addressed how other cities such as Moultrie had lower millage rates than Norman Park, but Griner said that is because Moultrie has a much greater population. Norman Park has about 400 taxpayers as opposed to more than 15,000 in Moultrie.

One citizen suggested Norman Park disband its police force and request the county provide protection for the city. He stated such a move would cost much less for Norman Park than a full-time police force. Griner stated he would consider the motion and bring it before the full council.

The city council had planned to hold the vote on the proposed increase with their third hearing on Sept. 20, but the residents told Griner that would put the vote during church revival services. The residents told Griner they would be unable to attend both and wanted a new date selected for the vote.

Jackson told the crowd the final budget must be submitted to Atlanta by Oct. 1, so options for a date of the vote were discussed. An agreement was reached between the council and residents to hold off on the vote until Sept. 27.

A final budget for the city, proposed to have a $8,195,000 digest and $105,000 income, was prepared for the regular city council meeting held Tuesday night, Jackson said. The budget was prepared for both the council and public present at the regular meeting.

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