Tax questions dog Phoebe/Palmyra acquisition

Al Lott

The promise from Phoebe Hospital to meet Palmyra's tax obligations is enough for some Albany and Dougherty County officials but others aren't so sure.

For county and city leaders, Phoebe's acquisition of Palmyra boils down to one thing: tax revenue.

"There's a potential to lose approximately $110,000 in taxes that would have been paid by Palmyra," said Albany City Manager Al Lott.

That $110,000 accounts for the city of Albany's portion of the $500,000 in annual property taxes currently paid by Palmyra Medical Center.

Lott says those tax dollars represent only 1% of the city's budget â" but not having the money could have a significant impact.

"We would either have to cut services or use our fund balance and take the money from there or invariably decide to replace it with other taxes," said Lott.

Another roughly $100,000 in tax dollars goes to Dougherty County but City Administrator Richard Crowdis isn't worried.

"Phoebe has taken the high road in making sure there's no tax loss in the tax digest with the acquisition so that's a good thing," said Crowdis.

But he admits he's received no concrete promises from Phoebe.

"I haven't had any conversations with them," said Crowdis.

County and city officials may be content with Phoebe's assurance to continue to pay Palmyra's tax obligations but it's a different story at the Dougherty County School System. This is where the vast majority of property taxes go and Dougherty County schools stand to lose $300,000 in revenue.

"The school system is really looking at a very difficult financial situation for the coming year already and this would just be an additional burden on top of all the other cuts that are coming," said School Board Chairman David Maschke.

Maschke says he's aware of Phoebe's pledge to meet Palmyra's tax burden but fears Dougherty County schools may be left holding the bag.

"I haven't heard anything said about the school system receiving anything, only about possibly the city and county receiving payment," said Maschke.

One thing all three men could agree on â" everyone will just have to wait and see how the dust settles.