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June 30, 2014FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — While the tax rate will be the same as last year, tax notices and advertisements will clearly state there's a "property tax increase."
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners will maintain the county's millage rate currently in place —7.656 mills — with no change, or the so-called "rollback rate."
One mill is one dollar per one thousand dollars of taxable value.
In Georgia, tax is levied on 40 percent of taxable value, meaning a home valued at $250,000 would be taxed on $100,000.
In the county, property owners whose home's valuation is $250,000, the county, state and school tax bill would be $2,852.40 – without further exemptions.
Forsyth County Finance Director David Gruen said to avoid confusion, while the county approved the same millage rates as last year, meaning there's no increase in the millage rate itself, homeowners will see in the advertisement for public hearings that state, "notice of property tax increase."
"It's not a contradiction there," Gruen said. "The rates are the same, the tax increase refers to the tax dollars to be collected and because there are[property] reassessments increasing the tax digest on the same properties."
Gruen said that while the county is levying the same tax rate, it will generate about 1.8 percent more in tax dollars from property reassessments.
"That's viewed by the state guidelines as a tax increase that the board will collect," Gruen said.
Forsyth County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the wording will certainly confuse some homeowners.
"It makes people think it's an increase," Mills said at a June 19 meeting.
Gruen said that for those who had higher property reassessments, they will indeed be paying more taxes, while other people will see no change and some people will see a decrease in taxes, if their property assessments went down.
"It's the effect of levying the same tax rate, it depends on the property values," Gruen said.
From new construction, Gruen said the county has also seen an increase of 3.4 percent in the tax digest. So the total increase in the county's tax digest is at 5.2 percent.
The preliminary budget presented to the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is based on a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate, therefore, before the Board of Commissioners may set a final millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the increase.
The millage rates are used to fund the county's general fund, maintenance and operations fund, the fire district and the general obligation bond, which pays for parks and recreation bond.
The general fund 4.812 mills covers the county's judicial systems, tax commissioner, sheriff's office, coroner, public works including roads and bridges and code enforcement.
The fire district's 1.97 millage rate funds the Forsyth County Fire Department.
The 0.86 bond millage is used for general obligation bonds.
Residents are asked to attend the public hearings: At 11 a.m. Thursday, July 3; at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 3; and at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 17. All three public hearings will be held at the Forsyth County Administration building, 110 East Main Street, Suite 220, in Cumming.
Adoption of the millage rate is slated at 7 p.m. July 17.