Powder Springs sets hearings on tax hike
by Ricky Leroux
July 16, 2014 04:00 AM | 1661 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
POWDER SPRINGS — Powder Springs will receive more revenue from property taxes in 2014, but city officials say it isn’t because tax rates have increased.

Two hearings are scheduled today so officials can receive comment from the community on the increase in the city’s tax revenue.

The city will receive more revenue from property taxes this year than it did in 2013 because the total value of the properties within the city limits has increased since last year.

According to Brad Husley, Powder Springs’ city manager, the Cobb County Board of Tax Assessors looks at property values each year and provides the city government with the total value of all the properties within the city limits. If the total value — also known as the digest — decreases, the city receives less revenue from property taxes; if the digest increases, the city receives more revenue. This year, Husley said, the total digest for Powder Springs increased from about $315 million to about $321 million.

“When (the digest) increases and we keep our millage rate, which is 8.5 mills, at the same rate, we receive additional tax dollars because our valuation went up,” Husley explained.

It’s the first time in six years the city has had an increase in the digest, he added.

Because the millage rate is not changing, a property owner’s tax bill will only increase if the value of their property has increased since last year. Property owners receive this information from the county, said Stephen White, chief appraiser for the Cobb Board of Tax Assessors.

“Every year, a property owner is going to receive an assessment notice that shows if their value has changed or not and what the taxable value will be,” White said.

The city received a tentative value for the digest in April and received final numbers in June, said Husley.

Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn said the digest for Powder Springs has been low over the last several years, partially due to the downturn in the overall economy, but also because of flooding in the city in 2005 and 2009.

“A great deal of our property values had dropped, and now, I’m pleased to say that property values are beginning to show a slight improvement, but nowhere near what we’ve lost in the past, when we had the big drop in property values,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn wants the public to know the increase in tax revenue for the city does not mean the city is planning on raising taxes.

“Our millage rate has remained 8.5 mills for the last 10 years,” she said. “We have not had a millage rate increase, nor are we proposing one, at all. But this is what we have to advertise.”

She said the city must advertise an increase in revenue as a “tax increase” because of a recently enacted law.

“Several years ago, the Georgia Legislature passed a bill — it’s the Truth in Taxation Law — that … states that when taxable property is reassessed, and the digest is higher than the previous year, the taxing authority — the city — must advertise a tax increase,” she said.

According to Vaughn, the law also states the city also must hold three public hearings about the increase in revenue. Two of those meetings will be today at Powder Springs City Hall at 2 and 6 p.m. at 4484 Marietta St.

The third meeting will be held on July 21 at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chamber in Powder Springs, 4488 Pineview Drive.

At the hearings, Vaughn said city Finance Director Diana Belanger will answer residents’ questions about the tax digest.

Powder Springs has the option to “roll back” the millage rate so the city receives the same amount of revenue from property taxes this year as in 2013, but Husley said the city doesn’t plan to make this adjustment.

“We could roll back the millage rate so that we don’t receive any more tax revenues than we did the prior year. And we’re not rolling back; we’re leaving our millage rate at the same rate,” he said. “We could roll back 0.449 mills to get to where we were last year.”

The difference between the rolled back millage rate and the current rate would be about $27 dollars for a house with a fair market value of $150,000, Husley said.

While the owner of the $150,000 house would see a decrease in property taxes with the rolled back millage rate, they will not necessarily see an increase in their tax bill this year, Husley stressed. The millage rate will remain at 8.5 mills, however, so a property owner will only pay more in property taxes this year if their property’s value has increased.

Above all, Vaughn wants residents to know the public hearings are not about raising taxes, but about increased revenue for the city.

“We are not raising their millage rate. We are required to report if we take in more property taxes than the previous year.”

If you go ...

WHAT: Public hearings regarding property taxes in Powder Springs:

TODAY:

WHEN: 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

WHERE: Powder Springs City Hall, 4484 Marietta St.

JULY 21:

WHEN: At 7 p.m.

WHERE: City Council Chamber, 4488 Pineview Drive

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TaxpayerUnderSiege
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July 16, 2014
The power to tax, is the power to destroy. When will we halt the madness?
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