BCBOE reduces millage rate, but tax increase likely

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The Bartow County School Board has lowered its millage rate, but some residents could see an increase in their property-tax bills this year.

Following the third required public hearing, board members voted 5-0 Monday night to decrease the 2018 millage rate to 18.85 mills from the current rate of 18.99 mills. 

But the decrease is a 3.6 percent increase over the rollback rate of 18.202 mills, which could raise taxes for property owners whose fair market value increased this year.

When the local tax assessor's office prepares the total digest of taxable property, Georgia law requires computation of a rollback millage rate that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred, according to Chief Financial Officer Megan Brown.

"The rollback rate is when we receive more revenue than we received the previous year due to the reassessment of property," she said.

State law also requires the school district to advertise the change as a tax increase since the state measures change against the rollback rate rather than the actual prior-year millage rate.

"So if someone's fair market value of their home increases, we have to advertise that as a tax increase," Brown said. 

But homeowners whose fair market values stayed the same or went down due to reassessments will see a decrease in their property taxes, according to Brown.  

For example, if a house with a fair market value of $94,570 and a tax bill of $623 last year was reassessed at $100,000 this year, property taxes would be $665 at the 18.99 millage rate, $660 at the new 18.85 rate and $637 at the rollback rate — increases of $41, $36 and $14, respectively, over the 2017 tax bill.

Brown added the school district receives tax money from new or improved properties as well as reassessments, and there was an increase in the tax digest this year due to both of those.

At the public hearing, resident Patricia Strickland questioned board members about the time that these hearings, which are required by state law, are held.

The two hearings on Aug. 9 were at noon and 6 p.m., and Monday's hearing started at 5:30 p.m.  

"I feel like that is disservice to the residents of Bartow County," she said. "It's kind of hard at 5:30 [p.m.] if they're getting off work or if they're older and have got to make arrangements. I think they should be considered."

During the regular monthly meeting, board members unanimously approved:

  • Contracted services with Pathways to provide exceptional education behavioral services at a total cost of $12,083 for a therapist, board-certified behavior analyst, functional behavior analysis and behavior intervention plan.
  • A contract with the Georgia Center for Assessment for professional learning and support in specific writing strategies and English language arts unit and assessment development, totally funded by the Literacy for Learning, Living and Leading grant at a cost of $21,467.15. 
  • Surplussing two service vehicles, two school buses from the current fleet and bus-wash equipment.