Dougherty Co. will likely see property tax increase

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Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Dougherty County homeowners will likely be paying more in property tax as early as next year. The County Commission made that decision to help fund an increase in employee pay and compensate for record inflation. The decision was not unanimous.

The County Commission did vote and approve a plan that will increase employee pay. To do that though they have to raise property taxes, a decision that many commissioners say they needed more time with.

In a 4-3 vote, the county commission approved the pay increase and a plan to increase the millage rate, which would lead to a property tax increase. The commission will have a final vote in August.

Many commissioners still had questions even after a 4-3 vote to increase the millage rate by 4.5 mills.

Gloria Gaines is a Dougherty County Commissioner.
Gloria Gaines is a Dougherty County Commissioner.(WALB)

“And we don’t fully understand this Mr. Chairman. How much of a tax increase and when?” asked Commissioner Gloria Gaines.

One thing commissioners did agree on was increasing employees’ wages. Commissioner Clinton Johnson said he wants alternatives to bring money in.

Clinton Johnson is the Dougherty County Commissioner for district 3.
Clinton Johnson is the Dougherty County Commissioner for district 3.(WALB)

“I don’t want to add more costs to households. Somewhere we got to make cuts. I don’t want to pass these costs off to homeowners.” said Johnson.

The millage rate increase is projected to bring in an additional $4 million by raising residents’ property taxes.

The county’s financial advisor, Ed Wall said even if the county didn’t want to give employees a pay increase property taxes would still need to be raised.

″If you didn’t do anything with the pay study, I was asking for a 2.5 mill tax increase for ‘23,” said Wall.

Ed Wall is Dougherty County’s Financial Advisor.
Ed Wall is Dougherty County’s Financial Advisor.(WALB)

This means a person who owns a $100,000 home would see about a $200 property tax increase.

Wall said one of the issues is the fact the county only has two options to fund their operations, sales tax and property tax.

“It’s unfortunate your residents have to pay more because you’re the place everyone comes to. Governments like you should be able to charge a different tax to people that don’t live here that require you to deliver all the services,” said Wall.

A person who owns a $100,000 home would see about a $200 property tax increase.
A person who owns a $100,000 home would see about a $200 property tax increase.(WALB)

He gave some other alternatives. One is to make cuts within the county. Another is an occupation tax, which would increase taxes for people who work in Dougherty County, but don’t live in it.

The commission didn’t back that option due to the possibility it could keep businesses from opening in the county.

Chairman Chris Cohilas said this raise in property tax is something they’ve been expecting for several years, but they need it to pay employees the wage they deserve and compete with other areas.

Chris Cohilas is the Dougherty County Commission Chairman.
Chris Cohilas is the Dougherty County Commission Chairman.(WALB)

“We’re missing tons of employees. We got major gaps in experience, and we got folks who are paying a lot more than us,” said Cohilas.

The commission will have a final vote in August. If approved, the increase in property taxes will start in 2023.

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