ALBANY — The overall countywide tax digest in Dougherty County came in at $1.991 billion in assessed value for the year, an increase of 1.81% from the assessed value of $1.955 billion in 2018.
On the table for consideration in the county is a property tax increase, but slight enough to where many homeowners may barely notice a difference.
The millage rate proposed for 2019 is 15.569, essentially unchanged from last year. The increase would come out to .092 mills, with the possibility of a rollback millage rate of 15.477.
“Without this tentative tax increase, the millage rate would be no more than 15.477,” a notice on the tax increase states. “The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $100,000 is approximately $3.50 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $150,000 is approximately $5.52.”
The taxes levied last year were $33.158 million, which is projected to go up to $33.169 million this year based on the 2018 digest. Countywide, for the 2019 tax year, there was $506.297 million in tax-exempt properties, up from $488.778 million the previous tax year.
“It is not that we have more properties that are exempt, but we are (re-valuing) the properties that are exempt,” Dougherty Chief Appraiser George Anderson said.
If the rollback millage rate were to be adopted, that would result in $32.985 million in taxes being levied, a difference of $184,468 from the 15.569 millage rate.
Edmund Wall, financial advisor for the county, noted that increases are coming primarily from businesses and public utilities rather than housing.
He also expressed concern that the rollback rate would choke off additional revenue from tax digest growth and force property tax increases in the future and that some residents will get a decrease in property taxes so slight they would hardly notice it.
The 15.569 rate, Wall said, would allow growth in the digest to help keep the same millage rate and not have to raise it in the future. He said it is also in keeping with a three-year financial plan set for the county last year.
“I want you to keep the same millage rate,” he said.
The proposed 15.569 millage rate sets off a series of three public hearings, the first of which would be at 10 a.m. on July 29. The hearing schedule will be advertised in The Albany Herald as well as on the county’s website, along with a five-year history.
This leads to a vote from the commission on Aug. 5 before Dougherty Tax Director Shonna Josey submits the tax digest on Aug. 13 to the Georgia Department of Revenue, which would need to approve the digest by Sept. 3.
Adopting the rollback rate would mean only advertisement of the five-year history, followed by the vote on Aug. 5.