County sets millage rates - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

County sets millage rates

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October 24, 2007

Albany - The Dougherty county commission sets its millage rate lower than expected, pulling money from reserves to make up the difference. Now, all three governing bodies have set the rate you will pay. We can finally get a better idea of what you'll have to pay in property taxes. For most property owners, even with a decrease in millage, the tax bill will be higher this year.

The final numbers are in, and county commissioners made a few changes to ease the burden you'll have to bear when it comes to paying your property taxes. "We're cutting back on some employee type benefits that we've been wanting to do for a long time, but we just feel like we need to put those on hold and get the millage rate down as much as we can," said Lamar Hudgins.

County commissioners rolled back the millage rate from 13.147 to 11.897, one and a quarter points. They also reduced the special services millage half a point. "We don't look for windfalls here," said Art Searles. "It's taxpayer money and we try to be prudent in terms of how it's spent."

In total, the county will bring in about $900,000 more in property taxes this year, about $700,000 thanks to the revaluation. But they'll have to pull $3.8 Million from reserves to balance the budget.

"We're not just sitting back raking in reval dollars," said Hudgins. "We're taking from reserves to be able to cut the millage rate as much as we did."

Bills won't be sent out for another month or so, but since all three governing bodies have set their millage rates, we can now give you a better idea of what your property tax bill will look like.

If your home was previously valued at $100,000 but increased in value by the average amount of 20%, your taxes will increase by $181.97 if you live in the city and by $211.12 if you live outside the city.

"I don't think anybody wants services cut and I don't think anybody wants our employees to work for nothing," said Searles. Searles says although the county wasn't able to do a complete rollback, he believes the board was fiscally responsible... and he believes taxpayers will be happy their taxes didn't go up as drastically as originally planned, while able to keep the services they count on. He said, "I think people will be a bit more pleased than they think when the actual tax bill comes out."

These rates aren't carved in stone, they could change. Because there are still many property value appeals that haven't been settled, a Superior Court judge will have to issue an order allowing for temporary collections of property taxes. If he does not accept the tax digest proposed by the board of tax assessors, the governing commissions may have to make additional changes to the millage rates.

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