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Mills River adopts 1-cent tax increase

Building and maintaining the Town Park has added to the town's ongoing costs, Mills River officials say. Building and maintaining the Town Park has added to the town's ongoing costs, Mills River officials say.

MILLS RIVER — The Mills River Town Board adopted a $1.4 million budget that increases the tax rate by 1 cent, to 2.24 cents per $100 valuation.

Counting the 7.5-cent Mills River fire tax, resident will pay 9.74 cents per $100 valuation tax, or $194.80 for a home assessed at $200,000.
The budget, up $104,000 from the current year's, passed unanimously Thursday night after a public hearing in which no one spoke for or against the spending plan. The town's tax rate remains one of the lowest in the county and the region, town officials said.
Over the past three years the town spent $3 million to buy 50 acres and built a town hall, library and town park and made other improvements, using $1 million in grants and $1 million in low interest federal loans to add to town funding.
"With the completion of the Phase One of Mills River Park project,the town now has officially added parks and recreation to the list of services provided by the town," Town Manager Jaime Laughter said in her budget message. In addition the town provides planning and zoning services, fire protection, street lighting and police protection as basic town services.
Among budget highlights:

  • The Mills River Fire Department will receive $564,680 while the Etowah-Horse Shoe Fire Department will get $1,859, based on the same rate as Mills River.
  • The contract with the Sheriff's Department for a Mills River deputy costs $91,000.
  • The town allocated $10,000 for the Partnership for Economic Development and $1,000 for agribusiness development.
  • The parks budget is $73,350 for maintenance and operating costs.
  • The town will have 25 acres to maintain when the lease expires for part of the land that is currently farmed and has hired two part-time park rangers to police the park. "It is my opinion that staffing levels are too low to maintain existing quality services and facilities," Laughter said.

She had recommended a tax increase of 1.5 cents per $100 valuation and changes in duties of town staff at a higher pay rate for some. The board said no to that and instead agreed to the 1-cent tax increase.

 

The budget does not account for a $100,000 grant from Flavor 1st, a Mills River based grower and packing company. Flavor 1st will donate the money to the Mills River Recreation Foundation, which hopes to raise money to match the grant. Estimated cost of ballfields at the Town Park is $300,000.