ALBANY — Each year when the tax directors in Georgia’s 159 counties complete assessment of their county’s tax digest, the taxing agencies in those counties must calculate what is called a “rollback millage rate” that will compute the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced.
Since the tax digest is based on fair market value of properties sold in the county, a reassessed value of the property may indicate a higher tax digest. If that is the case, as it is with Albany and Dougherty County in 2014, taxing agencies have two options: roll back the millage rate so that the same total of revenue is produced in the new digest as was produced in the previous year’s digest or leave the millage rate as it is.
In the latter case, property owners whose property values have increased from the year before will pay higher taxes on that property.
The city of Albany saw a slight increase in its tax digest last year, so rather than roll back its millage rate by .011 percent, the city will increase taxes by that amount, resulting in a millage rate of 9.990 mills.
“This is not a true tax increase; it only impacts property owners whose property value has gone up in the (county’s) reassessment,” city CFO JoEllen Brophy said Monday. “I’d like to stress that if individuals’ tax bills go up, it’s not because of a change in the city’s millage rate. It’s because their property values have gone up.
“And I think everyone is in general agreement that the tax digest going up is good for everyone: for the property owner and for the taxing agencies.”
Given the minuscule amount of the tax digest increase in the city, the tentative increase for an Albany home with a fair market value of $110,375 would be approximately 46 cents. The proposed increase for a non-homestead property with a fair market value of $289,555 would be approximately $3.19.
“In layman’s terms, if there’s any kind of increase in total tax dollars collected, whether for an increase in the millage rate — which the city didn’t do — or property values going up, the tax director must do a comparison of dollars assessed to calculate a rollback rate that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest,” Brophy said. “Since there were more dollars levied for real property taxes, tax dollars will increase.
“I think it’s also important to point out that property owners whose property has been assessed at a higher rate have the option to appeal that increase.”
Citizens who have questions about the proposed city increase are invited to attend public hearings scheduled on July 8 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 120 and at 6 p.m. on Room 100 of the downtown Government Center, 222 Pine Ave. A third hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 22 in Room 100 of the Government Center.