Some Georgians brace for higher property taxes 

Writer’s Note: Higher costs of groceries, gasoline, and housing, along with higher interest rates, have forced Georgians to get by with less money in their bank accounts. At the same time, rapidly rising home values are boosting government revenues while increasing property taxes…unless local governments adopt the “rollback rates” that keep taxes the same from the prior year. 

Below is a sampling of what’s happening in certain cities and counties around the state.

Centerville: Centerville officials plan to keep the millage rate the same at 12.20%, instead of rolling back the rate, the station reported. 

“The city plans to keep the millage rate the same instead of rolling it back, and with property values on the rise, property owners could see a higher tax bill,” according to WMAZ

Bibb County: Members of the Bibb County Board of Education unanimously voted this month not to increase the millage rate.

As reported by WMAZ, board members considered going with the current millage rate, adopting a partial rollback or adopting a full rollback. 

“Last May, as the fiscal year 2023 budget was being ironed out, former Superintendent Curtis Jones urged the board to consider cost-cutting measures to demonstrate good stewardship and efficient use of taxpayer money,” the station reported. 

Cobb County: Angry residents of Cobb County had a lot to say to the county Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education about the prospect of paying higher property taxes.

This is according to East Cobb News, which reported that both bodies were preparing to set their millage rates for 2023. This year has had a record tax digest of $58 billion, up 15 percent from the previous year.

“That’s due to tax assessments that across the board are an average of 18 percent higher than last year,” according to the website.

“Because neither commissioners nor the school board are ‘rolling back’ to match last year’s revenue collections, the state considers that a tax increase and governing bodies must advertise that and hold hearings.”

The proposed fiscal year 2024 Cobb government budget of $1.2 billion, East Cobb News went on to say, includes retaining a general fund tax rate of 8.46 mills. The fiscal year 2024 Cobb County School District budget of $1.4 billion that began this month is based on a property tax reduction of 0.2 mills, from 18.9 to 18.7.

“The proposed FY Cobb budget is $43 million higher than the current budget and reflects what county officials say are growing needs for many county services, including fire and emergency services,” the website reported.

“Some departments would be getting double-digit percentage increases in their budgets, including public safety.”

The Cobb County Board of Education this week voted to reduce the General Fund millage rate of .20 mills—from 18.9 to 18.7 mills. This is the first millage rate decrease since FY2007. 

Cobb’s Board of Commissioners, meanwhile, kept the general fund property tax rate steady at 8.46 and the Fire millage rate at 2.99.  

Forsyth County: Property taxes in Forsyth County will not rise significantly alongside skyrocketing property values.

“School district leaders have not made any more changes to the proposed rate or budget since a public hearing earlier this month where Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden announced a full two-mill rollback of the millage rate, bringing it from its current 17.3 mills to 15.3,” as reported by the Forsyth County News. 

“This rate will ensure that property taxes will not rise significantly alongside skyrocketing property values. The final overall budget for the school system is $645.3 million, an increase of about $59 million from last year’s budget.”

DeKalb County: Homeowners in DeKalb County will get $147 million in tax relief this year, according to Atlanta News First.

The tax cuts come from the county’s Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (EHOST) credit. The owner of a property valued at $375,000 would receive a tax credit of almost $1,500, “effectively eliminating the projected 2023 property tax increase,” the station reported.

“Adopted in DeKalb County six years ago, the EHOST takes 1% of the county’s 8% sales tax collected and uses it to reduce property taxes for homeowners,” Atlanta News First reported.

“By the end of the year, EHOST will have provided property tax savings of about $738 million in the county.”

The exemption only applies to homeowners who qualify for homestead. 

Cherokee County: In Cherokee County, rising home values are driving up property taxes.

This is according to the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger News.

The website reported that the county’s overall real property digest in 2023 increased 21.81% from last year. 

“Of that, 15.01% is attributed to inflation and 6.8% is growth,” the website reported.

“Of 112,298 real property assessment notices, 89%, or 99,935, showed an increase in fair market value, according to the county tax assessor’s office. Of the remaining properties, 9,251 had no change and 2,140 decreased. The average assessment increase was 15.01%.”

Members of Cherokee County’s legislative delegation told residents this month, however, that they’re working on ways to alleviate residents’ tax burdens.

One proposal involves capping the annually adjusted taxable property value at 3% over the determined lowest base year value, the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger News reported. 

Gwinnett County: Property tax rates for school taxes in Gwinnett County will not change from last year, per the county school board.

As reported by the Gwinnett Daily Post, the county Board of Education adopted a maintenance and operations millage rate of 19.2 mills and a debt service millage rate of 1.45 mills this month. 

“School taxes make up the largest portion of a property owner’s property tax bill, although it is not the only part. The bills also contain taxes raised through a separate millage rate set by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners and, if the property is located inside a city’s incorporated limits, municipal property taxes that are set by city councils,” the paper reported

“Although the millage rates for school taxes will remain the same as they were last year, property owners can expect to owe more in taxes if the value of their property increased this year.”

A home that had a value increase from $445,000 to $469,700 this year would pay an increase in taxes from $3,341 to $3,530, the Gwinnett Daily Post said. 

Rome: Rome City Commissioners this week reduced the city’s millage rate.

As reported by the Northwest Georgia News, board members dropped the city’s millage rate by 2.3 % to reduce the impact of property tax assessment increases. 

This, as some property tax assessments have increased dramatically.

“The board dropped the millage rate by 2.3% to lessen the impact of property tax assessment hikes,” the website reported.

“However, most residents will likely see an increase in their property taxes for 2023.”

The Northwest Georgia News reported that the city and Rome school system’s combined millage rate is 26.450. The rollback rate, which estimates the needed millage rate to keep revenues flat is 24.674.

“The rate is made up of three funding sources: city maintenance and operations, capital tax and school maintenance and operations. The city commission reduced the city M&O rate from 8 mills to 7.8 mills and the capital tax from 1.826 mills to 1.8 mills,” according to the website.

“The city school system reduced its M&O rate from 17.25 mills to 16.85 mills. Overall, that equates to the 2.3% reduction from 27.05 mills to 26.45 mills.” 

Bulloch County: Bulloch County residents won’t pay as much in property taxes this year as they were originally told, but they will pay an increase over last year, nevertheless. 

“Bulloch County officials have dialed back a proposed increase in the Board of Commissioners’ portion of the property rate by a half mill, to a 1.5-mill increase,” the Statesboro Herald reported

“Compounded with inflation in assessed property values, that will amount to a 28% increase in tax on average, but not the more than 30% implied by the originally suggested 1.75-mill hike. Under the revised proposal, the county government’s new, general millage rate would be 12.58 mills, up from last year’s 11.35 mills.”

A mill, the paper went on to say, is 1/1000th of the value of property assessed for taxes. Most property in Georgia is assessed at 40% of market value. 

“A 1.5-mill increase amounts to $60 more annual tax on each $100,000 worth of property,” the Statesboro Herald said.

“That doesn’t factor in, on the one-hand, the increases in appraised values or, on the other hand, homestead exemptions, including a big one-year, state-funded exemption that will offset the increase to a degree on owner-occupied homes.” 

Chatham County: The Savannah-Chatham County School System voted this month to keep property tax rates the same as last year. 

“The board adopted a 17.6 mills rate. This is the same rate as last year, but the board did not approve the rollback rate,” according to WTOC.

“With property values increasing, that means a 10 percent increase in property taxes – which is an increase of around $157 a year for a home valued at $250,000.”

Meanwhile, according to the Savannah Morning News, Chatham County commissioners voted to maintain county millage rates. That will result in rising property tax bills for non-homesteaded property owners across the county at the next billing cycle. 

“Rising home valuations and growth in the digest in the last 12 months will lead to an increase in property taxes across all three county-related millage rates,” the newspaper reported.

“The General Maintenance and Operations tax levied at 10.518 mills on all county residents will see an increase of 8.41%. The Special Services District millage rate of 4.502, which applies to unincorporated residents, will see an increase of 5.90%.”

The Savannah Morning News cited rising costs for capital projects and staffing and retention issues as the reason commissioners decided to maintain the rate. 

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