Monday, July 13, 2009

If city property taxes aren't going up, then how do you explain my tax bill?

Someone asked me the following question the other day after reading my blog posting http://boblangstaff.blogspot.com/2009/07/myth-city-property-taxes-are-rising.html:

"If city property taxes aren't going up, then how do you explain my ridiculously escalating tax bill?"

Part of the answer to that question lies in the "Current 2009 Tax Digest and 5 Year History of Levy" that Georgia law requires the Dougherty County Board of Commissioners, the Board of Commissioners of the City of Albany, and the Dougherty County Board of Education each to separately publish in the Albany Herald. I will try to figure out how to post the ads as printed on this blog later, but for now I will just point out the pertinent figures.

Here's what each of the three entities collected in property taxes in 2004 and 2009 and the additional tax being collected:

City of Albany
2004 $14,295,798
2009 $14,881,969
diff + $586,171

Dougherty County
2004 $24,660,986
2009 $26,594,844
diff + $1,933,858

Dougherty County Board of Education
2004 $35,314,955
2009 $40,913,275
diff+ $5,598,320

According to the "Current 2009 Tax Digest and 5 Year History of Levy" published in the Herald, the City of Albany's two largest percentage tax increases came in 2005 at 1.43% and in 2009 at 1.02%. Dougherty County's two largest percentage tax increases came in 2004 at 22.75% and in 2007 at 7.78%. The Dougherty County Board of Education's two largest percentage increases came in 2007 at 15.88% and in 2005 at 0.76%.

Your property tax bill is also affected by action by the General Assembly this year which will add another $200 to $300 to most tax bills. A state homestead tax relief grant started when state coffers were fuller is not being funded in the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year.

The Georgia General Assembly paid about $428 million statewide in 2009 to local governments to offset the property tax bills of their residents. The theory was that the money would help offset some of the cost of the unfunded mandates passed onto local governments by the State of Georgia. That is no longer being done. Local governments won't receive more money because of the change, but taxpaying property owners will be paying more due to the state's decision not to continue this tax relief.

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