Cherokee County property owners may see a slight decrease in their upcoming property tax bill.
The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners officially approved the property tax millage rate Tuesday for the fiscal year 2022 budget.
The total millage rate for all three funds controlled by the board of commissioners is 8.938 mills. This amount breaks down to a general fund rate of 5.212 mills, a fire fund rate of 3.292 mills and a parks bond rate of 0.434 mills. The millage rate for both the general fund and fire fund remained the same as they were in 2020, while the parks bond rate was rolled back from 0.461 mills in 2020 to 0.434 mills this year. The average Cherokee County property owner, with property valued at a little over $300,000, could see a drop in his or her property tax bill of around $3.28, according to the county.
“I’m proud we’ll be able to continue offering among the lowest commissioner-controlled tax rates in the state,” Commission Chair Harry Johnston said following the meeting. “We were able to meet the county’s needs while still keeping taxes very low.”
Even with the potential drop in the average Cherokee County property owner’s tax bill, county officials forecasted that the county’s property tax revenue will surpass last year’s. Due in part to the amount of growth Cherokee County experienced over the past year, revenue for the general fund was projected to be $4.8 million more than 2020 revenue, while the fire fund could see $2.7 million more in revenue. However, this revenue growth was paralleled by projected growth in county expenses, including the hiring of nine new employees by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and 13 for Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services, six new EMS positions and a 5% cost of living adjustment for public safety employees.
Cherokee County has the third-lowest property tax millage rate of all counties in metro Atlanta, behind only Forsyth and Fayette counties, according to the county. County Manager Geoff Morton said both of those counties had an additional local option sales tax that is used to help offset their property tax rates.
The only person to address the commissioners during any of the three public hearings on the millage rate was John Long. During his comments, Long recommended the county evaluate all of its departments and agencies in order to make proper financial adjustments to help keep expenses down. He also suggested all of the county’s legal services should be brought in-house as a cost-savings measure.
In addition to approving the millage rates they were able to set, the commissioners approved the proposed millage rates put forth by the Cherokee County School District. These include rates of 18.25 mills for the school system’s maintenance and operations and 1.2 mills for its bond measure. Although the overall rate is not changing, it represents a 5.28% tax increase due to rising property values.