Dunwoody City Council voted June 25 to keep the city’s tax millage the same, rejecting an effort by half the council to cut the tax rate.

The council unanimously approved a proposal to keep the city’s millage at 2.74 mills, the same rate it has levied for the past several years.

This year, the city’s tax digest – the value of taxable property in the city – has increased for the first time in years, so the city expects to collect about $70,000 more than it did last year, City Manager Warren Hutmacher told the council. Taxes are calculated by multiplying a property’s assessed value by the millage.

Councilman Denny Shortal said the city should use the money “to pave a couple more roads.”

But the city’s digest has been declining over the past several years, so tax revenues remain below the amount city officials thought the city would collect when it was created nearly five years ago.

“We’ve had to live on less dollars since we incorporated,” Councilman Terry Nall said. “We’ve had to run the city on less dollars than we use to pay DeKalb County. I think we need this extra money to put injto capital projects.”

Before the vote to set the rate at 2.74 mills, the council split 3-3 on a proposal to lower the tax rate to 2.68 mills. The motion failed because of the tie vote.

Councilman Doug Thompson proposed the reduction, saying levying 2.68 mills would produce about $100,000 less in revenue than the current rate. He said he proposed a rate slightly below the break-even point because “I want a tax decrease.”

Council members Adrian Bonser and Lynn Deutsch joined Thompson in voting for the decrease. Shortal, Nall and Mayor Mike Davis voted against it. Councilman John Heneghan was absent.

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.