David Thompson

David Thompson, incoming chairman of the Walton County Board of Commissioners, talks with a county employee about budget numbers during a public hearing Monday night, July 27, 2020, in Monroe, Ga.

MONROE, Ga. — The next chairman of the Walton County Board of Commissioners made clear he doesn’t like the way the current group is spending public dollars.

Republican nominee David Thompson was the only person to speak Monday night in the first of three public hearings on the county’s proposed $57.6 million budget and the 10.905-mill property tax rate being discussed.

In all, the hearing took four minutes. That was enough time for Thompson — who is unopposed in the chairman’s race in the Nov. 3 general election — to make clear he wants to bring changes to county government.

Thompson said his calculations show $4.35 million in added spending.

While the general fund itself would include a little more than $3.6 million in growth, Fire District and 911 funds added in bring it to $4.35 million.

“I can do Microsoft Excel too,” Thompson told a county employee who kibitzed about the calculations.

The incoming chairman, a Monroe businessman, told Chairman Kevin Little and Commissioners Bo Warren, Lee Bradford, Dr. Jeremy Adams and Kirklyn Dixon that the budget’s growth includes $1.2 million of “defined benefits.”

“That’s $1.2 million just in increase in defined benefits where your salaries only went up $935,000,” Thompson said.

“This is a ploy to spend every penny by keeping the digest budget up and your millage rate the same. The digest went up tremendously and this administration chose to spend it instead of doing a rollback millage rate, which we need to do in a pandemic year, and I stand against this budget.”

By holding the rate at 10.905 mills, the county sees an effective 2.14% tax increase based on the increase in property values.

Millage rates are applied to 40% of the assessed value of a home. A house with a fair market value of $150,000 would pay $654.30 in taxes at the 10.905-mill rate, or $640.62 if the county took the rollback rate.

A rollback rate is what the board would set to keep revenues flat from the previous year. The board did that from 2010-15.

Little declined to comment on Thompson’s remarks.

Vice Chairman Timmy Shelnutt and Commissioner Mark Banks were absent from the hearing Monday night.

Additional public hearings are set for noon and 5:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at the old courthouse, with the monthly meeting of the Board of Commissioners to follow at 6 p.m.

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