Christmas without property taxes? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Christmas without property taxes?

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October 8, 2007

Albany - Dougherty county property tax bills will arrive later than usual this year. The school board won't even set it's millage rate until October 22nd, two days after tax bills are normally mailed out. The delay is because of the fiasco caused by property re-valuations.

The revaluation itself has been complicated enough. 3800 appeals are still outstanding, and it will be months before the final tax digest is set. So, how can local governments collect the money they need to operate?

Tax Director Denver Hooten said, "The county will petition Superior Court to allow a temporary collection order." But before that can happen, millage rates must be set by the city, county and school boards.

"Normally, our tax bills are due December 20th, in other words, those bills are out and people can start paying October 20th, but as everyone knows, those bills have not gone out." That's because it will be another two weeks until those millage rates are set.

Here's what the proposed rates look like. The county has proposed rolling back the rate a half mill on both special service and for the general fund. The city has proposed a total rollback, not taking the reassessment into account at all. And the school board has proposed keeping the millage rate the same, but that may change.

Finance Director Robert Lloyd said, "At this point we're not rolling back, but that's not to say we will not roll back, and to the extent that we will roll back or not roll back as the case may be."

The School board was scheduled to set its millage rate Monday night, but has since changed the meeting to October 22nd. "We're trying to be responsible," said Lloyd, "and not just give a one off decision tonight, but consider it with what we can afford to do in the public's interest."

After all three boards have set millage rates, a Superior Court Judge will be petitioned to order temporary tax collections, but that may not happen until late November and only then can property tax bills be sent out.

Hooten said, "Until there is a temporary collection order and we have the ability to pint those bills and send them out, it's going to be no less than a month later than the normal process." And you'll still have 60 days to pay up.  So Merry Christmas, without the taxes.

The city is holding a third public hearing Monday night (Oct. 8th) at six at the school administration building.

If you still have an outstanding appeal on your property value, you will only be billed for 85% of the recently accessed value. Once the appeals process is complete, your bill will be adjusted.

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