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City, county, schools set to raise taxes

POSTED: November 26, 2012 4:50 p.m.

Property taxes within Liberty are on the rise.
Hinesville announced last week that a tentative millage increase will increase property taxes by 9.94 percent, and the Liberty County Commission and the Liberty County Board of Education now appear to be following suit.
All three entities have planned public hearings for their proposed rates, a step that is required by law if the entities raise their rates. Each entity released the information in the form of legal advertisements.
Movement on the rates is delayed this year due to delays caused by a conversion error on exemptions, as the Courier previously reported.
Liberty County Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones said the numbers were finalized Nov. 1, and the reports were issued to taxing authorities Nov. 2. The Liberty County property tax digest shows a 1.2 percent decrease in value, and it’s a likely contributor to entities hiking their millage rates.
Despite the delay, Jones said he still hopes to receive state approval for the digest and send bills early enough that property owners can pay their taxes this calendar year.
In order to do so, Jones said he would need to have the digest approved no later than Dec. 7.

Board of education rate up 3.23 percent

The Liberty County Board of Education tentatively adopted a rate of 16 mills, up from 15.5. It will increase property taxes by 3.23 percent throughout the county.
A home with a fair market value of $100,000 would see an increase in education taxes of approximately $20, according to the legal advertisement. For a nonhomestead property with a fair market value of $150,000, education taxes would increase $30.  
As the Courier previously reported, the school system must maintain a millage rate that is at or above 95 percent of the statewide education rate in order to qualify federal impact aid at the rate it currently receives.
In late October, Assistant Superintendent Jason Rogers said the Georgia School Superintendents Association tracks school board millage rates, and the most recent data indicated an average of 17 mills. He added that many smaller districts with lower rates had not been reported.
The Courier on Tuesday attempted to reach Rogers and the Georgia School Superintendents Association for an updated state average, but did not make contact.

Commission raises greatest on smaller municipalities

The board of commissioners must adopt three rates.
When asked whether scheduling public meetings means the county intends to raise taxes, County Administrator Joey Brown said a raise is uncertain but added that the board has leeway to establish a millage rate within the advertised amounts.
Residents who live in incorporated Allenhurst, Flemington, Gum Branch, Midway, Riceboro and Walthourville will see an increase of 4.43 percent over the rollback rate, or an addition of 0.6 mills, for a rate of 12.58 mills.
Those in unincorporated areas will see the same rate for an increase over the rollback of 3.88 percent, up 0.6 mills to 12.58 mills.
For a home with a fair market value of $100,000, this would result in an additional $24 due to county taxes. For a non-homestead property with a fair market value of $150,000, the increase is an estimated $36.
Residents of incorporated Hinesville will see a 3.4 percent increase, up .45 mills to 11.75 mills. The county rate for Hinesville residents is lower due to deductions for duplicated services, such as trash collection and mosquito control.
For a home with a fair market value of $100,000, the increase would mean an additional $18 in county taxes. It would mean an additional $27 in county taxes for a non-homestead home with fair market value of $150,000.
Hinesville residents, however, also must contend with an increased municipal rate released Nov. 16.
A notice from the city said a tentative increase of 1 mill is pending, and it would bring the rate to 10.5 mills. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $75,000 is approximately $28, the ad said. The proposed increase for a nonhomestead property with a fair market value of $100,000 is $38.

A look at nearby taxes

Liberty County taxing entities are not the only ones raising taxes, despite the economic climate.
The hikes come at the heels of a three-year state moratorium on increases in the assessed values of real property and all other classes of property subject to ad valorem taxation, according to previous reports.
The Courier’s sister publication, the Bryan County News, reported in September that the Pembroke City Council increased its millage rate from 8.359 mills to 10 mills.
A Glynn County millage database on indicates an increase in property taxes from 2011 to 2012 as well.
However, some entities are holding the line.
Richmond Hill, the Bryan County Board of Commissioners and the Bryan County Board of Education each retained their rates.

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