On Thursday night the County Board of Commissioners approved a property tax millage rate rollback, lauding the ability to save residents money.
Chief Finance Officer Mary Parrott presented the proposed rollback.
“We had growth again, which was very, very positive,” said Parrott, with all changes together representing a roughly five percent increase to the tax digest of $280 million.
The General Fund’s Maintenance and Operations millage rate was adopted at 4.392 mills, a decrease of 2.6 percent from last year’s 4.509.
The millage rate for Fire Services (3.07 mills), EMS Services (0.456 mills), and E-911 Services (0.21 mills) will not change.
A home in unincorporated county valued at $250,000 would see a property tax bill of $2,753. The lion’s share of that total goes toward the Board of Education at 72 percent ($1,981), with County Maintenance and Operations at 15 percent ($417) and Fire Services next at 10.5 percent ($292).
According to Parrott, the rollback will result in savings to the citizens of roughly $700,000. A consistent rollback over five years gives the county a cumulative loss of $21.7 million in tax dollars.
Resident Jack Smith cautioned against the self-congratulation.
“I do take exception that you say when you’re doing a rollback you’re losing revenues. That money ain’t yours. You’re leaving the money with the owner of the money. Rollbacks ain’t lost revenue for any government entity, especially when you’re talking about personal property taxes,” said Smith, citing funds from SPLOST and E-SPLOST and the large chunk of revenues going to the Board of Education, a separate entity from the county itself. “Congratulations on passing the budget, congratulations on doing a minor rollback, but again, I think this county in particular is drunk with our money and very happy to spend it for us.”
County Administrator Steve Rapson sought to clarify some of the complaints, noting that SPLOST dollars are limited in what they can be used on and cannot go towards General Fund expenditures.
“I think one of the things that we’ve taken great pride on is that fact that we have dialed back our General Fund expenditures over the last five years,” Rapson said, pointing to the $21.7 million in lost potential tax revenues. “I agree with him that that’s the taxpayers’ money. That’s exactly why we did it because we acknowledge that it’s taxpayers’ money.”