The first set of public hearings related to the proposed millage rate for property taxes in Gordon County are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., with a third meeting to follow on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. All three hearings will be held at the County Administration Building at 201 N. Wall St.
The Gordon County Board of Commissioners proposed the county’s current millage rate for property taxes of 9.631 mills be continued for fiscal year 2019-2020. While not an increased rate, the proposed tax levy is an increase of 0.728 mills over the rollback millage rate of 8.903 and will require an increase in property taxes of 8.18 percent.
In Georgia, law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed when the total digest of taxable property is prepared that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred. Essentially, this allows the local entities to continue receiving the same relative amount of income from property taxes year-to-year.
For taxpayers with a home that has a fair market value of $150,000, the average value of a home in the county, the proposed millage rate will result in a tax increase of approximately $43.68. The proposed tax increase for a nonhomestead property with a fair market value of $150,000 is approximately $43.68.
County Administrator Jim Ledbetter said the Board of Commissioners elected to maintain the current millage rate in an effort to balance the county’s budget. He also emphasized that a millage rate of 9.631 mills, though not the rollback, is still the lowest millage rate the county has seen since 2010 and has helped the county see nearly $48 million in actual growth.
“We were at 8.9 mills then, in the middle of the recession,” Ledbetter said. “As a result of taking rollbacks in the past, we’ve actually had less revenue coming in. In 2017, our millage rate was 9.829 mills and we had to use reserves. In 2016-2017, we used reserves. We can’t keep doing that. By keeping the millage rate where it is, the prediction is that we will generate $1.8 million more than last year. That will get us what we need to balance the budget.”
The Gordon County Board of Education will also hold two public meetings on Monday, Sept. 23, related to the millage rate. The board intends to maintain the current rate of 19.172 mills for the 2019-2020 school year. While the proposed rate is not an increased millage rate, it is an increase over the rollback rate of 18 mills.
Gordon County Director of Finance Mendy Goble said the difference in taxes paid between the rollback rate and the intended rate would “not be significant” for individual taxpayers. For a property with a homestead exemption and fair market value of $150,000, the difference in taxes paid between the proposed rate and the rollback rate is $5.66 per month or $67.98 annually.
“So, it’s a small change to each individual taxpayer, but it’s a huge impact for us,” she said. “When we look at staying at 19.172, that’s a million dollars net to us.”
The decision to favor keeping the current millage rate was based heavily on the possibility of a recession in the near future, the likelihood that mandated raises could cost the school system approximately $400,000, and the desire to balance a currently unbalanced budget. The county’s decision to continue phasing in the Freeport Tax exemption, which taxes inventory, raw materials and finished goods, is also expected to cost the system at least $300,000, Goble said.
By keeping the millage rate at 19.172 mills, the total tax levied would be $16,875,166. The school system would then pay a required 2.5% fee to the county in the amount of $421,879, leaving the board with a net tax of $16,453,287.
Monday’s public hearings will begin at 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Central Office. A third public meeting will be held at the Central Office on Monday, Sept. 30 at noon.