County Tax Increase -- Sort Of -- Requires Public Hearings

At Thursday's meeting of the Dade County Commission, the commissioners voted to decrease the millage rate for county property taxes for fiscal year 2018.

But through an eye-crossingly complicated formula involving the yearly reduction of property taxes by expected local option sales tax (LOST) revenues-which County Clerk Don Townsend (left) explains at every meeting continue to nosedive--as well as a growth in assessed real estate values, this millage rate decrease is expected to generate a tiny increase in taxes.

The uptick is so minimal--$3.72 on a $100,000 home in the unincorporated county, $6.36 inside Trenton city limts--that it is not expected to cause much taxpayer pain or protest. Nevertheless, said Townsend, it is enough that the law requires the county to hold three public hearings on the proposed increase.

Those hearings will be at noon and 6 p.m. on July 20 and 6 p.m. on July 27, all at the county Administrative Building.

The current combined county/city millage rate is 14.860. The proposed rate is 14.573.

Townsend presented the commission two options at the July 6 meeting. The first fully funded FY '18's budget; the second would require the commissioner's to go back and cut $38,500 from the already approved budget. Yet both, said the clerk, represented enough of an increase to tax collections that the hearings were required. The commissioners went for option 1.

Townsend issued a press release about the millage rate, the tax increase and the hearings, which The Planet is pleased to reproduce here in its entirety, in hope that Dade's canny numbers man can explain the change more clearly than The Planet.:

Proposed Property Tax Increase

The Dade County Board of Commissioners today announces its intention to increase the 2017 property taxes it will levy this year by 4.40 percentage over the rollback millage rate.

Each year, the Board of Assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property in the county. When the trends of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicate there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the Board of Assessors is required by law to re-determine the value of such property and increase the assessment. This is called a reassessment.

Also, there was a decrease to revenue of $123,127 from the 2016 Local Option Sales Tax (also referred to as "LOST") compared to the 2017 LOST collected inside the county. This loss caused the LOST Ratio to be less than last year. The LOST Ratio is listed on the "Current 2017 Tax Digest and 5 Year History of Levy" as a rollback, which reduces the gross maintenance and operation millage rate for Dade County. Since this year's LOST Ratio was less than last year's value it caused the Net M&O Millage rate to increase, while the Gross M&O Millage rate actually decreased.

When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia Law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year's new digest that last year's millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

The budget tentatively adopted by the Dade County Board of Commissioners requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate. Therefore, before the Dade County Board of Commissioners may finalize the tentative budget and set a final millage rate, Georgia Law requires that three public hearings be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on this increase.

All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearings on this tax increase to be held at the following locations at the indicated times: July 20, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. and July 27, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. at the Dade County Administrative Building, Commissioner's meeting room, 71 Case Avenue, Trenton, Georgia.

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