Coweta County looks to adopt unchanged millage rate

The 2014 millage rate to be set by the Coweta County Commission on Aug. 19 is expected to remain the same as last year, though increases in property values will result in more taxes collected and, technically, a tax increase.

Commissioners are considering adopting the same millage rate as last year, which will result in more total property tax revenue than last year due to an increase in property values. However, if a property has not been reassessed and the value has been constant, the tax will also remain the same as last year, county officials said.

The proposed millage rate for incorporated areas is expected to remain at 7.75 mills while the proposed millage rate for unincorporated areas will be maintained at 6.5 mills. Due to the increase in the total tax digest (the value of all property in the county), commissioners are required to announce a tax increase even though the millage rate is staying the same and no increase to the tax rate is under consideration.

When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires taxing authorities to compute a rollback millage rate for maintenance and operations that will produce the same total revenue based on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred. For 2014, the calculated rollback millage rate would be 7.39 mills for incorporated areas and 6.40 mills for unincorporated areas.

Reassessments reflect changes in the real estate market, including traditional sales as well as distressed sales which include the sales following foreclosures. After five years of decline in the overall tax digest, many properties in Coweta County have increased in value. Higher sales prices and a marked decrease in the number of foreclosures provide evidence of the overall improvement in the real estate market, officials said.

In 2009, the value of a mill was approximately $4.08 million. In 2013, that same mill was valued at $3.83 million, based on the change in the value of the digest. The digest reduction has added considerable pressure to the budgeting process to balance the demands of a growing population since more than 6,000 people have moved to Coweta County in the last four years alone.

Coweta County officials and staff responded to the reduction by decreasing the workforce, holding vacant positions open, cutting operational budgets, eliminating or delaying new capital projects, deferring major maintenance projects and delaying construction of facilities that would add operating costs. At the same time, the county absorbed increasing health care costs, responded to legislative and regulatory mandates and continued to provide core services expected by the citizens, county officials said.

Public hearings on the millage rate will be held in the commission chambers on Aug. 12 at 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and on Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. located at 37 Perry Street in Newnan.