Local-law-imposed tax cap requires Fayette to collect less revenue even as board raises millage rate —
The Fayette County Board of Education Aug. 12 in a news release announced its intention to adopt the maintenance and operations millage rate at 19.334 mills, which will effectively decrease property taxes the board of education will levy this year by 1.42 percent over the prior year.
The proposed millage rate is an increase from the prior year’s millage rate by 0.184 mill.
Each year, the board of tax assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property in the county. When the trend of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicate there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the board of tax assessors is required by law to re-determine the value of such property and adjust the assessment. This is called a reassessment.
When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed 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.
New legislation took effect with the 2021 tax digest for Fayette County homeowners that added an additional homestead exemption. This exemption is in addition to other exemptions available to seniors, veterans, and disabled veterans.
According to the Fayette County Tax Commissioner’s website, this new exemption is available to all taxpayers holding a current exemption with the exception of those receiving the benefit of a 100% reduction in school taxes and will reduce the school tax portion of your tax bill.
A base value for the exemption is determined for each homesteaded property within the county that can only be increased, annually, by the lessor of 3% or the inflation rate, plus any additions or improvements to the property, for the purposes of calculating the school portion of the tax bill.
The new exemption was approved by Fayette County voters in a November 3, 2020 ballot referendum. The exemption applies only to Fayette County school district taxes. The call for the referendum was approved by the Georgia State Legislature as “local legislation”. House Bill 1166 was submitted by members of the Fayette County delegation during the 2019-2020 legislative session.
The 2021 tax levy will apply to fiscal year 2022 for the school district. The total tax levy will be $107.0 million which is 1.42% or $1.5 million less than the prior year. The reduction in the tax levy is a result of the net digest decreasing from the higher than normal increase in exemptions.
Total exemptions increased 46% or $632.8 million of which the new floating homestead exemption accounted for $458.5 million. This compares to the total reassessed value increase for all properties of $405.4 million. There are 19,778 properties that qualify for the additional exemption with an average reduction in property taxes from the new exemption of $448.
This means that the decrease in value from exemptions for homestead properties was greater than the increase in assessed value for all properties in the county. Total property tax revenue reduced by the exemption for those property owners is approximately $8.8 million.
The fiscal year 2022 general fund budget totals $228.8 million which is approximately the same as the prior year. The budget anticipates a decline in local revenues due to economic conditions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, state revenues continue to be reduced from prescribed formula earnings by $4.5 million. The school district will use $5.5 million in fund balance to offset the reduction in revenues.
In addition, the school district will use approximately $4.5 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) federal funds targeted for Covid relief and recovery. The use of these funds will help to maintain core continuity in staffing and operations.
The millage rate adoption is scheduled to occur August 23, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. at the School District’s County Office located at 205 LaFayette Avenue, Fayetteville, Georgia. — News release from the Fayette County School System.