MILTON, Ga. — Milton could raise it millage rate for the first time in the city’s history, but longtime residents will be familiar with the new figure.
The city lowered its millage rate for the first time in 2018 amid the confusion over Fulton County property assessments, but it could raise it back to its cap, 4.731 mills, the same rate the city held from 2006-17.
The city is still considering its options, however, and could keep the lower rollback rate.
One mill equals $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value based on a home’s fair market value, which is determined by the Fulton County Board of Assessors. Homeowners are taxed on 40 percent of their home’s market value. That figure is then multiplied by the millage rate to determine the amount of tax levied to each home.
The proposed measure would represent an 11 percent hike in the property tax rate from last year. At the same time, however, assessed home values for this year are expected to fall in the wake of new legislation that rolls back assessments on owner-occupied homes to 2016 levels.
The city’s proposed budget for 2020 anticipates greater revenues than last year, a good thing now that Milton has more on its plate, with millions of dollars slated for new projects in the coming years.
The city is currently working to finalize its plan to convert the Milton County Club property into a public park, and has received a $17 million estimate for the total cost of the buildout. Improvements have begun on Providence Park, and the city is drafting an updated trails plan that will likely call for the construction of miles of new trails.
The city also faces an issue with active parks. Local youth athletics leaders have called on officials to expand the number of athletics fields and facilities. Greenspace Bond dollars cannot be used for active parks, so any funds allocated for passive areas could potentially delay the city’s fundraising for active park spaces.
Milton must also maintain its roads, police and fire departments and other routine spending before it can dig into its coffers for new projects.
Finance Director Bernadette Harvill said the city is still working to get a clearer picture of how the increased millage rate or a rollback rate could impact improvements or new initiatives. She said the city will provide more details at the Aug. 12 City Council meeting when the city is set to adopt its tax levy.
Regardless of the millage rate approved, residents can receive tax savings through county and city exemptions. Homeowners can apply for a basic homestead exemption ($15,000), senior exemptions ($15,000, $25,000 or full value exemption based on age and/or income) or a disability exemption (full value exemption).
A home with a fair market value of $400,000 with the basic homestead exemption will pay $686 to the city if the council approves the tax levy increase to 4.731 mills.
Many residents could see a significant savings through the floating homestead exemption.
The new floating homestead exemption multiplies the lowest assessed value of a home from 2016, 2017 or 2018 by the inflation rate increase from December 2015-17 to determine the adjusted, base-year rate. That figure is then used to calculate the home’s assessed value. The resulting figure is then subtracted from the 2019 assessed value to determine the exemption.
According to the city, a home valued at $340,000 in 2017 and at $460,000 in 2018, the floating homestead exemption would stand at over $42,000, a savings of over $250 to taxpayers.