Tax increase impact on the Dougherty Co. community

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 10:25 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - On Friday, Dr. Peter Bluestone with Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies joined WALB’s Jim Wallace. Dr. Bluestone is an expert on state and local fiscal policy and taxes.

“My question to you Dr. Bluestone, the impact of raising taxes by a county right now. You have the figures on Dougherty County right now, as they are talking about a proposal to raise the millage rate. What’s the impact on people?” asked Wallace.

“So the impact is going to vary. We think initially about people affected by increases in millage rates and we think of homeowners. In particular, we think of seniors on a fixed income, and the impact it has on them. But the state does a good job of providing for homestead exemptions, particularly for seniors with lower incomes. They are somewhat insulated from the potential raise in taxes and the rise in their tax bills, “ said Bluestone. “A group that you don’t hear much about but isn’t insulated as much are renters, in particular truly low-income renters or seniors who are renters on a fixed income. The property tax is paid legally by the owner of the property, the landlord. But that property tax is passed through to renters as a cost of doing business. The cost of owning the property. As property taxes increase, eventually rents will increase as people will come off their leases and new leases are negotiated. So that’s a group that can suffer disproportionately when property taxes are raised.”

“Obviously, we are in an inflationary period, on the cusp of a recession if not in one already nationally. Raising more taxes, what’s the effect on local businesses?”

“So it’s difficult on local businesses, particularly small businesses. For businesses thinking about locating one place or another, you know a higher property tax rate could discourage them from selecting Dougherty County. Maybe they look at a neighboring county. Another interesting, difficult situation for the county is businesses that are exempt or large institutions that are exempt. There are several that are located in Dougherty County,” said Bluestone.

“There is competition, and it’s unfortunate. And it seems like counties that are a little bit down on their luck have a hard time getting back on their feet.”

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