Mayor Johnson discusses property tax options in Savannah

City of Savannah drone view
City of Savannah drone view(WTOC)
Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 5:52 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah Mayor Van Johnson wants to clear any confusion about the city’s property tax rate, known as a millage rate.

Savannah City Council is set to adopt the new tax rate next Thursday.

City Council has two options in front of them right now; adopt the same millage rate as last years, or a rollback rate.

“The City Manager is prepared to implement the wishes of Council, either to maintain the current millage rate, or to make $600,000 in cuts as he deems necessary,” said Mayor Johnson.

The rollback millage rate option would leave the City short $600,000 in property tax collection for the next cycle, meaning City staff would have to make cuts to shore up the deficit.

Adopting the current rate, 12.856 mills, is advertised as a tax increase per state law, a technicality the Mayor believes should be changed through the legislature in the future.

“This is the same rate that everyone is paying right now. But the state defines it as a tax increase. It’s the same rate, but the state says it’s an increase,” Mayor Johnson said.

One other point of confusion the Mayor said he wanted to clear up was the notion that Council had decided and voted on a millage rate already.

“To be clear, to date there has been no vote or adoption of the City’s millage rate by this City Council. Any assertion contrary to this point by anyone, including members of Council, is absolutely not true.”

The next public hearing for the millage rate is next Thursday, the 13th, at 10am.

Mayor Johnson also highlighted the results of the City’s partnership with SOMOS Community Care and Northwell Health at two coronoavirus testing sites in Savannah over an eight day period.

The Mayor said 1,588 people were tested at the two churches, and 162 of those tested positive for coronavirus.

City Council will meet for the first round of interviews for Savannah’s next city manager on Wednesday in executive session. Council will interview six candidates, narrowed down from over 100 applicants, according to the Mayor.

Explaining why this round of interviews will be behind closed doors, Mayor Johnson explained, “Many of these candidates, particularly those in executive city or county management positions have not disclosed to their employers they’re seeking this opportunity.”

Citing Georgia law, Mayor Johnson said records of applicants can be withheld up until three finalists are selected, 14 days before a decision is made.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.