DeKalb County property taxpayers will soon be able to see how much they are paying for police services.
On the last day of the 2011 legislative session, the Georgia State Senate gave DeKalb County the authority to list the millage rate for basic and non-basic police services as separate line items on the county’s property tax bill.
House Bill 607, which authorizes the change, was passed 50-0 by the Senate. If signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, the police millage rates will be detailed on the 2011 property tax bills.
In the line items, basic police services will be composed of services performed by the uniform division, traffic unit, park patrol, criminal investigation division and crime scene investigation unit of the DeKalb County police department.
Non-basic police services will be composed of services performed by the aerial support unit, SWAT team, bomb squad unit, intelligence and permits, K-9 division, gang task force, drug task force, homeland security and emergency management division of the police department.
The police millage bill was a top priority on the county’s Board of Commissioners’ legislative agenda for this year.
“Public safety is of utmost importance to county residents, and this bill provides assurance to our citizens that their tax dollars used to fund the critical mission of our police department will be protected from crippling budget cuts during the tough financial times facing our county,” Commissioner Lee May said.
Commissioner Larry Johnson said the bill was a good step for the county.
“We have heard what our constituents want and are pleased that the state legislature has moved to make this happen,” Johnson said.
Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton said the bill “will provide the county another tool to continue to provide the best public safety services for our citizens.”
The bill also allows the county to “show our deep appreciation and commitment to the men and women in our police department,” Commissioner Stan Watson said.
“I will call the governor to ask him to sign the bill,” Watson added.
Jeff Wiggs, president of the DeKalb Fraternal Order of Police, said he hopes the bill’s passage “will restore the money that is needed for first responders.”
A designated millage rate for police services is good, but it depends on the rate at which the Board of Commissioners sets the millage, Wiggs said.
“We’re hoping they will do the right thing and restore our budget,” Wiggs said.
In February the Board of Commissioners voted to cut $33.64 million from the administration’s proposed budget to avoid a tax increase. In that vote, the police department’s budget was cut by 4.46 percent.