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David Horn provides an overview of Decatur's annual financial report and 10-year trends of city's financial health

Each year, the City of Decatur publishes a “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” with the last report covering the fiscal year January 1 to December 31, 2018. The report discusses important financial information including economic demographics, taxes, and debt. Below are some notable trends.

THE EQUALIZED ASSESSED VALUE OF THE CITY OF DECATUR HAS DECLINED AND PROPERTY TAX COLLECTED HAS INCREASED. From 2009 to 2018, Decatur has seen the total taxable assessed value decline from $928.5 million to $824.5 million (11% decrease). Simultaneously, property tax collected has increased from $11.2 million to $13.8 million (23% increase). The 5 largest property taxpayers in 2008 have also seen a decrease in their assessed valuation of 10% thru 2017 from $61.5 million to $55.2 million.

THE CITY OF DECATUR’S PROPERTY TAX RATE HAS INCREASED 38% SINCE 2009. In 2009, the City of Decatur’s Total Tax Rate per $100 of Assessed Value was 1.21669. In 2018, the total tax rate was 1.68302. The City of Decatur is one of many governmental units that collects property taxes including Decatur School District, Decatur Park District, and Macon County. In 2009, the share of the total tax rate levied by the City of Decatur was 13.7% and in 2018 the share was 16.0%.

TOTAL GOVERNMENT DEBT HAS INCREASED 274% AND PER CAPITA DEBT PER PERSON HAS RISEN 294%. In 2009, total primary government debt was $71.2 million and by 2018 debt had risen to $194.9 million. Per capita debt was $870 in 2009 and $2,560 in 2018. A significant portion of the debt is for the dredging of Lake Decatur.

THE COMBINED NET PENSION LIABILITY FOR POLICE AND FIRE PENSION FUNDS IS $135 MILLION. The net liability for the police pension fund is $62 million and the net liability for the fire pension fund is $73 million. The police pension fund is 62% funded while the fire pension fund is 51% funded. Police and fire pensions are currently funded through property taxes (as is the library, municipal band, and payment of general obligation bonds and subsequent interest). Increases in pension obligations and bond debt are the primary drivers of increased property taxes.

WHILE THE CITY’S POPULATION HAS DECLINED OVER 6% SINCE 2010, THE NUMBER OF CALLS FOR SERVICE TO POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS HAVE INCREASED. The City of Decatur has one of the top ten fastest shrinking populations in the country since 2010. However, calls to the police and fire departments have increased. In 2010, there were 58,443 calls for service to the police compared to 60,228 in 2018 (3% increase). In 2010, there were 8,659 calls out for the fire department. In 2018, there were 11,631 calls out (34% increase). While calls for service have increased, the number of police officers, firefighters, and total city government employees have declined 7%, 14%, and 15%, respectively, between 2010-2018.

FOR MORE INFORMATION - The city’s comprehensive annual reports from 2006-2018 can be found on city’s website at the following link:…/…/financial-reports/cafr/

Horn for Decatur
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