Jul 19 – ALBANY – The Dougherty County Commissioners have a tax problem on their hands, but the good news is that the value of real estate across the county has increased slightly year over year.
The question is whether to lower the tax rate so that the total property value is up 0.34 percent, which has increased by about $ 6.8 million from $ 2.005 billion to $ 2.011 billion .
“Even if it is a minimal increase, it is a good thing and shows growth,” said Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas.
Homes are selling briskly right now and this could signal further growth in the county’s tax balance in the future, he said.
“It shows that residents can get more for their homes,” said the chairman. “When you talk to Dougherty County estate agents, houses sell like hotcakes. It’s a sellers’ market.
In the short term, however, commissioners will have to decide whether to cut the millage rate by 0.34 percent to reflect the rise in property values. For the tax rate in the Special Service District, which funds fire safety and recreation for residents of unincorporated Dougherty County, the increase would be 0.27 percent.
Failure to reduce tax rates will be considered a tax increase under state law and would require the Commission to hold a series of public hearings on the matter. The Commission’s budgetary finance committee recommends leaving the millage rate unchanged.
For landowners, a resident in unincorporated Dougherty County whose residence increased in value as ratings increased pays an additional $ 2.09 to the general fund and $ 1.03 more to the special service district fund.
However, only property owners would pay more if there was an increase in property value. Properties that remained unchanged would be taxed at the same amount as in the previous year, and those that had depreciated would have a lower overall tax burden.
With that in mind, the commissioners on Monday also approved a pay raise for public safety workers and a $ 1,000 lump sum payout to other county workers.
The first year or two of the raise is funded by federal dollars, but the county budget must pay the cost after that.
Four years ago, the Commission increased the millage rate to the current rate of 0.0155. The county must plan to use county funds to make these pay increases permanent, Commissioner Victor Edwards said.
“Resetting them means throwing away all of that hard work,” said Commissioner Clinton Johnson, a member of the finance committee. “We made the tough decisions four years ago.”