F’ville rolls up tax rate

Reflecting the reality of the unending local recession, the Fayetteville City Council on Aug. 16 set the 2012 general fund millage rate at 3.078 mills, up from the previous 2.691 mills.

The new millage rate will generate $132 less than the total number of tax dollars levied last year. The new millage rate comes on the heels of the city‘s net tax digest losing more than 11 percent.

The council agreed unanimously with a recommendation by city staff to set the 2012 general fund rate at 3.078 mills and the capital projects rate at .804 mills. The general fund millage last year was 2.691 mills while the capital projects rate was .75 mills.

Figuring into the rates are the city tax digest figures that decreased again this year. Real property decreased by 12.34 percent, offset by a .98 percent increase in other taxable categories such as motor vehicle tags and heavy equipment. Once calculated, the overall digest decreased by 11.36 percent. One mill is now worth $703,784, said Assistant Finance Director Ellen Walls.

In terms of net taxes levied, there has been essentially no change for the past three years. Net taxes levied in 2009 totaled $2.769 million, representing a decrease of $21,885 over the 2008 total. That total dropped to $2,732,713 in 2010 with a corresponding decrease of $36,441 in net taxes levied. By 2011 the net taxes levied was essentially the same at $2,732,222 while for 2012 net taxes are expected to generate $2,732,090.

The effects of the recession over the past few years is most notable in the declining value of real and personal property, a changing reality that city finance staff several years ago began to call “the new norm.”

The highest values came in 2008 when real and personal property were valued at $886.2 million. That was followed in 2009 with a total of $876.5 million.

But it was in 2010 when the price drop in the assessed values in real estate began to be evident.

Personal and real property totals decreased to $802.64 million in 2010 and dropped even further to $755 million in 2011.

The decrease was even more precipitous this year, falling to $662 million. That drop heavily accounted for the net tax digest decrease of 11.36 percent.

The continuing drop in values and, subsequently in revenues collected, is linked to the a number of cost-cutting measures undertaken by the council in recent years. Those cuts are continuing today and include the current proposal to reorganize city government and eliminate a number of staff positions.