Lee taxes likely to remain the same

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Barring any unforeseen events during the next few days, Lee County property owners will not be subjected to a property tax increase when they receive their bills later this year.

Lee County Commissioners plan to meet on Sept. 27 to set the county's tax millage rate for 2012.

That rate is expected to remain at 15.684 mills for the operation of county government in both the incorporated and unincorporated sections of the county.

Although the millage rate will remain the same, a 2 percent growth in the tax digest this year means the county government will have an additional $230,000 to finance its operations.

County Administrator Tony Massey was pleased with the growth in the tax digest.

"You always want to see that," Massey said. "We had zero growth in 2011 and actually had almost minus 1 percent in 2010, so this is a 3-percentage-point swing."

Tax Assessor Joe Wright said the gross tax digest was up almost $36 million. With property assessed at 40 percent of fair market value, the net increase is about $18 million, Wright said after considering exemptions and covenants.

The proposed millage rate of 15.648 mills will be rolled back 2.882 mills because of the Local Option Sales Tax collected in Lee County. That leaves a net millage rate of 12.766 mills.

Also, the Lee County Board of Education is expected to meet earlier on Sept. 27 and approve a property tax rate of 15 mills. The net rate for the operation of schools is 15.4 mills because of an assessment to pay the principle and interest on county school bonds.

Combining the 12.766 county rate, the 15.4 school tax rate and a two-tenths-mill assessment for the state leaves a proposed rate of 28.366 mills.

Wright said the tax digest reflects a $5 million gain in motor vehicle values reflecting a move by Lee Countians to purchase more vehicles. It also shows a $12 million gain in personal property, which is machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures, inventory and other items not classified as real property.

"Lee is fortunate in times like these that you still have some growth," Wright said. "Lots of counties would like to say they added 100 new homes to the digest this year."